CAREER ADVICE: The Desi HR Guy on how volunteering makes you stand out

Published: November 16, 2012

Majority of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without.


In my earlier posts, I discussed that interviewers and hiring managers are becoming tired of hearing generic responses to their not-so-original interview questions. Volunteering is another effective way of standing out in the crowd.

There is a lot of information available online about the benefits of volunteering so I am not going to get into details. Peter Drucker is considered the Father of Modern Management. Almost every business management textbook I read in university made some reference to him; when he talked CEOs of major corporations listened. So I was surprised to learn Peter Drucker wrote at great length about volunteering and managing non-profits. He suggested that volunteering in the non-profit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride. It also offered volunteers development and training absolutely free of charge.

Non-profits such as the Salvation Army and the United Way rely on donations from several sources to continue operations. In a tough economy there is increasing pressure on non-profits from donors and other stakeholders to be more efficient. They have to do more with less and that is why volunteers play such a critical role in their organizations.

Today, there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities to choose from. Certain illnesses, such as cancer, touch a large part of the population; volunteering with a non-profit that raises awareness or is involved in the care or treatment of patients would be a good place to begin for young people.

Imagine that you are the hiring manager, who is also a parent, and you come across a resume where the candidate volunteered at a children’s hospice that provides specialized pediatric palliative care for children living with a life-threatening illness. What does that tell you about the candidate? About their character? You don’t need to ask a series of mind-numbing interview questions to find out that this is a remarkable individual.

When I volunteered to conduct mock job interviews with Grade 10 high school students I was impressed with students who volunteered their time at well-known charities or worthwhile causes in the community. Equally shocking was the low numbers of students from our community who volunteered on a regular basis. This made me think that when a difficult hiring decision had to be made between two candidates with the similar work experience and backgrounds, the one with volunteer experience, in many cases, was awarded the position.

Volunteering offers many benefits to the individual both personally and professionally. It will require one to move out of their comfort zone but the rewards are well worth the initial anxiety, it might even help you land that dream job. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.”

Pavi Toor is a Human Resources Manager and operates the site He can be reached at



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