Do Companies Truly Care if You Have Volunteered?

I got my first job in the nonprofit sector through volunteering. And it is something for which I will always be grateful. And I know that others have done the same. But sometimes I feel as though we are among the lucky few for whom the stars aligned.

A recent survey conducted by Deloitte found that a mere 30% of resumes include volunteering, despite the known benefits to career advancement. The article released by CSR Wire indicated that job applicants may be undervaluing volunteering. However, I question that takeaway. (Also, let’s recognize that Deloitte issued their survey results on their 17th annual Impact Day, so this is strategic CSR marketing on their part. That is not a bad thing, but worth pointing out, nonetheless.)

I wonder how many HR recruiters truly look at a candidate’s resume to assess their level of volunteerism, and what skills are gained as a result of that dedication. The study targeted individuals who are currently employed and have the ability to either directly influence hiring, or indirectly influence the person making the hiring decision. While 80 percent of hiring influencers indicated that they believe active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily, the study doesn’t point out how this belief directly influences hiring decisions. I’d be curious to know how many jobseekers are asked about their volunteering experience during the interview process, and it would be interesting to see how often it comes up with someone who includes that experience on their resume, versus someone who has not. Over the years, I’ve written about how millennials are more apt to ask about a company’s philosophy towards giving and volunteering during the interview process, because that is an important value to them. But I’m not convinced that — for most companies – it is a critical question that they (the companies) include as they’re getting to know the interviewee. Thus, it’s interesting that while companies tout their commitment to giving back, it may not always be something that they prioritize with the people whom they are hiring.

These perceptions are all based on assumptions I have, as well as my observations in working with HR professionals in my prior 10 years of workforce development experience. But that was several years ago. Maybe times really have changed – but I remain skeptical. For companies, I think it comes down to skills, experience and “fit” – which is subjective and for which volunteerism represents only a very small part.

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