Need a Job? Volunteer Credit: Dreamstime.com

Giving back to the community is one way job seekers can boost their chances of finding work, new research shows.

A study by financial and consulting firm Deloitte revealed that skills-based volunteering enhances job prospects, with more than three-quarters of human resources executives saying it makes a job candidate more desirable.

"Many of us in the volunteer sector have long felt volunteering gives a boost to those looking for work, but we've never had solid research to back it up," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Volunteering can provide the skills, contacts and leadership qualities that make you stand out in a competitive job market."

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The research shows volunteering can pay particularly high dividends for graduating college students and returning military veterans. Close to 80 percent of the human resources executives surveyed feel skills-based volunteering improves the job prospects of new grads and vets.

But job candidates seem to be unaware of the boost that volunteering can bring to their job search: Less than half of the college students and military personnel surveyed think of volunteering at a nonprofit as a way to develop skills and gain the experience needed to land a future job.   

"It is clear that the skills and experience gained through volunteering offer a competitive edge," said Evan Hochberg, national director of community engagement for Deloitte Services LP. "However, when more than half of college grads and returning veterans don't consider volunteering to improve their employability, there is work to be done to help them see the upside of volunteer bridging as a viable job-search option." 

The study also found that it's not just job candidates who can improve their image by volunteering their time and skills. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed think volunteering contributes toward an employee's positive reputation, while 65 percent believe the experience is beneficial for an employee.

The study was based on surveys of 202 human resources executives, 202 college seniors and 101 members of the U.S. armed forces who are to be discharged within the next 12 months.

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