Infographic: How Volunteering Increases Job Opportunities

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June 26, 2013;Corporation for National & Community Service


The Corporation for National & Community Service has recently released a report, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, which shows just how valued volunteering can be in the workforce. The study discovered that volunteering is linked with a 27 percent increase in odds of employment, and provides “social capital and human capital,” which are directly related with better job prospects. Some of the benefits volunteering can provide are professional contacts, expanding networks, leadership opportunities, social relationships, knowledge, and work experience. Volunteering has the strongest impact on rural communities and individuals who lack a high school diploma.

CNCS also provided an infographic for their collected data:



One interesting finding was that economic conditions and time don’t seem to impact the relationship between volunteering and employment.

The nonprofit sector has been aware of the powerful effect volunteering can have on your skill-set and job opportunities for quite a while, but it’s always encouraging to see statistics reflecting these views.—Aine Creedon

  • Scribblegrl

    While I personally got my dream job through volunteering and think that volunteering is important for many things, I feel like this study is very deceptive. Volunteering doesn’t increase your job opportunities, not unless you’ve done a control study where you have the same person apply to the same jobs both with a volunteering and without a volunteering experience, or randomly tell people whether to volunteer or not. All this tells me is that people who volunteer are more likely to get jobs, which probably points to the fact that people who want to volunteer are more enthusiastic and caring of their environments and therefore get jobs. The “scientific method” used in this study is about as scientific as saying that driving a red car causes accidents, when in fact, the underlying cause of the accidents is the driver’s personality (where someone who is more daredevil would be more likely to buy a red car). It’s pseudoscience like this, that people treat as facts because they aren’t schooled in scientific inquiry that the media picks up. And then you’ll have all these horrible people who don’t care about anything sign up to “volunteer” since they think they can get a job when in fact, they have no passion for volunteering or any organization and are probably costing the organization more harm by taking up staff time. Please make sure to inform your readers of what is fact and what is correlation.

  • Olly Benson

    AS your first commentator notes, they have found a correlation, not a causation. And the first rule of statistics is correlation does not equal causation. This can best be demonstrated with a graph that shows, year-on-year, a correlation between Internet Explorer usage and US homicides: However, whilst there is a correlation, it’s difficult to envisage how one could cause the other (other than the obvious jokes about trying to use Internet Explorer).
    Correlations are a good point to start a thesis, that you then set out to prove.

    One way to test whether it simply a correlation (either coincidence or the effect of another factor) or a causation, that it should scale relatively well. So if the number of people who volunteered doubled, would you expect to see the same increase in those able to find jobs? Similarly, if the number of volunteers halved, would you expect to see the number of people getting jobs decrease by the same amount? Personally, I doubt the correlation would be maintained, but I don’t know.

    Perhaps one suggestion is that rather than it is the volunteering that makes someone more employable, it is that because they are more likely to be able to get a job that they are more likely to volunteer. There is a correlation, albeit not strong, between the economic prosperity of an area and the number of volunteering opportunities available. Areas where there is more stability, where there is a greater sense of community, and where people need to spend less time concerning themselves with basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing, are more likely to have a comprehensive programme of volunteering. Therefore, it is more likely that those seeking work would be able to find volunteering opportunities in these areas. Conversely because these are areas of relative prosperity, they are also more likely to get a job.

    On a more basic level, it may simply be if you have access to a car, you will find it easier to volunteer. You also have far more opportunity to find work, because you can reach places that someone without a car can not get to.

    Equally, the data could be swayed by particular sectors – for example, healthcare, education and culture/heritage where there is a general expectation that you should have some prior experience before applying for a job. However, that does not mean someone wanting to become a welder or chef would benefit from having any volunteering on their CV.

    Does this matter? Yes, absolutely. If we are going to tell young, unemployed people that there is a direct causation between volunteering and their ability to get a job, then we need the prove that the volunteering is the reason they have increased prospects. That case has not yet been proven.

    None of this is not to say that volunteering is not a good thing, and as someone whose career has been the result of my volunteering, I don’t doubt that volunteering can only be beneficial to getting a job. But that does not equate to prove that any one individual is able to improve their chance of getting a job simply by volunteering.