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Volunteer Abroad And The Resume Dilemma

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Sep 27, 2012 1:05:00 PM

Guest post by Sherry Ott

Sherry Ott is a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer with one goal in mind - to make you wish you were somewhere else.  She seeks out unique travel experiences and writes about her around the world adventures on www.Ottsworld.com    She’s also a co-founder of www.MeetPlano.com  a website and national travel event teaching you how you can take your very own traveling career break or sabbatical.

Meet Plan Go Logo 

Should you or shouldn’t you – it’s the big resume question?  You’ve finished your volunteering placement and had the time of your life traveling around the area and learning about the culture of your host family or placement.  But now you are staring at that gap on your resume wondering if you should mention your volunteer experience or not.  Is volunteering something that hiring managers even care about?

A recent LinkedIn survey found that 41 percent of the professionals surveyed stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience. Twenty percent of the hiring managers surveyed agree they have made a hiring decision based on a candidate's volunteer work experience. 

In a recent article about volunteering and it’s career relevance, CNN Money reported "What we're hearing on the employer side is that if the volunteer experience is relevant to your career goal, include it."

Volunteer Abroad on a career break in IndiaSo – how to you make sure that your volunteering experience is relevant to your career?  You can start by choosing your geographic location carefully.  Are you in an industry that manufactures in China, then maybe volunteering in China to learn more about the culture there is a good start.  Or maybe you are in the IT industry and volunteering in places like India will be a good career enhancing experience.

Next you can consider what type of work are you doing on your volunteer assignment.  Are you leading others, managing a classroom and schedule, working with conservation or medicine – there are a world of opportunities out there to volunteer and build your tangible skills and soft skills alike.

When you return, you will need to consider the best way to highlight those experiences to enhance your job search or career.  Volunteering can demonstrate a commitment to character, signal your ability to accomplish a goal, or show that you are a well rounded person.  It will most definitely make you stand out among other applicants. 

And sometimes volunteering has other benefits to your career  - like helping you understand what it is that you love to do, or helps you network and meet new people in different parts of the world who can further your career.

Sherry Ott volunteering in IndiaVolunteering on my career break travels changed the trajectory of my own career and life.  It was through my volunteering assignment in India that essentially Meet Plan Go! was born. Michaela, my now business partner, worked for the company I was volunteering with and we became friends.  Through that friendship we discovered our passion of career break travel and were determined to bring career breaks to American society in the form of Meet Plan Go events across the country!  We are now on a mission to put a career break on every resume.  We are accomplishing this by teaching others how they can take a career break or sabbatical, plan a purposeful itinerary, and return to the workforce again with more experience and knowledge. 

Your volunteering experience as part of your travels is valuable – so don’t hide it on your resume, proudly display it as part of your career travels and accomplishements.

And if you don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing and planning purposeful itineraries as part of longer term extended travel and career breaks – then don’t miss the Meet, Plan, Go! Travel event October 16th in 10 cities across North America.  At each event you’ll be inspired to do meaningful long term travel that includes volunteering among other cool knowledge building ideas.  In addition, you’ll be guided through the process of planning and taking a career break or sabbatical so that you can get started on achieving your own travel dreams. 

To learn more about Meet Plan Go! events – go to www.MeetPlanGo.com and get your tickets to your travel dreams today.

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Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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