Can Community Service Help You Get Hired?
Most high school students know the importance of community service when it comes to building their college application and résumé, but does the same notion apply to your professional résumé as well? Can doing community service really help you get hired after graduation? The answer is yes!
“Employers are interested in classroom achievement, but they also want to know how a student has applied his or her education outside of academia,” said Patrick Groves, Director of Talent Acquisition/HRIS for Gordmans. “Community service is an important marker of practical application because it implies that the student was willing to sacrifice his or her time for an important cause.”
Having community service activities on your college résumé shows you’re a well-rounded student, and having these same pointers on your professional résumé shows potential employers that you’re a well-rounded human, with the potential to be an outstanding employee.
“More and more companies are asking their employees to get involved with community service,” explained Marie Davis, Manager of National Recruitment Programs and Partnerships for Chipotle Mexican Grill. “For example, Chipotle participates in community service events to help out in the community. Some examples include gardening or volunteering at community food banks. We want employees who are comfortable and open to participating in these types of activities and can even bring their own community service ideas to the table. Students should definitely carry their community service experience onto their professional résumé. More companies are looking to learn about the whole person and not just the type of skills developed in college or through work experience.”
It makes sense, right? If you care enough about your community to take time out of your evenings or weekends to lend a helping hand, you’ll most likely apply this same attitude to your job, like helping others with their projects, getting to know your coworkers inside and outside of the office, and being a genuinely caring employee.
“At Chipotle, we hire for the 13 characteristics, and don’t necessarily look for experience, but instead we want to know how you have made others better,” said Davis. “We’re looking for the person who looks beyond themselves. It’s not only about their ambition or where they’re going, but what they can do to make others better and stronger, and how they can take their skills and qualities to positively impact those around them, especially those directly in their community. That’s the person I want to hire.”
So what’s the best way to showcase your community service activities to your potential employer? First, don’t think of your experiences as just supplemental activities, but instead, use those as practical examples of your soft skills.
“Showing you’re involved in community service is a great way to demonstrate your soft skills,” Davis stated. “The skills you take away from volunteering or doing community service, like compassion, understanding, empathy, even communication, are all skills that make you an excellent member of a team and even a stronger leader.”
Besides listing community service experiences on your résumé, you can also discuss your passion for volunteering or a particular charity during your interview process.
“At Gordmans, one component of our Core Values is to enhance the quality of the lives of our guests and we strive to hire associates that align with our passion for giving back to the community,” said Groves.
“Since community involvement is such an important part of who we are, and we make this known to candidates, it generally makes it easy to ensure both parties – candidate and company – are aligned before an offer is extended,” said Groves.
“As a candidate at Gordmans, you’re likely to be asked a series of questions about your experiences. If relevant to the situation, I would definitely encourage a candidate to speak about community service, as well as business experiences.”
In addition to discussing your activities during an interview, Groves also suggests keeping a thorough list of all your volunteer experience on your LinkedIn résumé too.
“The job market is a competitive landscape, and every advantage you can leverage to create a point of differentiation between you and another candidate deserves to be showcased,” Groves explained. “The fact that you’ve taken time to give back to your community is commendable. Publicly displaying that you are proud of that work is completely acceptable and advantageous to you.”
So next time you’re helping your DECA chapter collect canned goods for a food drive, clean up a local highway or participate in an MDA walk, remember to add that to your résumé when you get home. The small acts of kindness you perform in your community now could help you land the job of your dreams in the future!