This originally appeared on LinkedIn. You can follow Greg Baldwin here.
If you are job hunting, or just looking around for new opportunities, you have probably spent a lot of time recently tending to your LinkedIn profile. Updating your experience. Joining new groups. Building your network. Following your favorite new influencers (hint, hint).
But what if I told you there is something else that you probably aren’t doing which could dramatically increase your odds of getting a job?
It’s not about getting a graduate degree, and it’s not even about learning a new skill. And as for changing your perspective, you can also put those Tony Robbins CDs back in the closet.
According to the research, the smartest and most often overlooked thing you can do to get ahead in the competitive job market is to start giving back. That’s right. If you want to improve your odds of getting your dream job, it is time to start volunteering.
Here are the facts.
This summer, researchers at the Corporation for National and Community Service, released new findings that tracked the relationship between volunteering and employment for a group of 70,535 respondents over a 10 year period.
According to Dr. Chris Spera, CNCS’s Director of Research & Evaluation, and one of the authors of the report ”Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” (pdf) active volunteers were 27% more likely to get a job than non-volunteers. And the relationship held stable across gender, race, ethnicity, age, location, and unemployment rate. That’s a big difference.
Underlying the findings, Spera and his team believe there is a strong relationship between volunteering and the development of social and human capital—key attributes in today’s most desirable candidates.
The findings echo a 2011 LinkedIn survey of 2,000 professionals, which found that 41% of respondents consider volunteer experience to be as important as work experience for job candidates. The survey also found that 20% of hiring managers have offered jobs based on a candidate’s volunteer experience.
So what are you waiting for? Last year 64.5 million Americans volunteered, which might sound like a lot. But it’s really only a bit more than one in four of us. So until everybody else reads this and starts volunteering, you’ll have a leg up on 180 million people.
If you need some help getting started, come visit us at volunteermatch.org. And once you’ve found a great place to volunteer, add it to your LinkedIn profile and let the job hunting begin.