LinkedIn is an excellent place to showcase your primary work skills in order to position you for a new job or a promotion. Did you ever wonder why LinkedIn also offers a section to put your volunteer work? Why should anyone in the workplace want to know about your personal life? Perhaps it even feels intrusive that LinkedIn asks you to add that to your profile.
Adding your volunteer activities is a wonderful opportunity to personalize your profile and showcase your unique brand, which is made up of much more than your workplace skills. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the herd, cover some gaps in your job history, or demonstrate some non-job skills. It may also be a way of showcasing your transferable skills.
Show your leadership in your professional field.
The President of the Board for an association of which I was also involved shows that not only is he an HR leader at his company, he has a deep commitment to the advancement of the HR profession with his many years of service to this organization.
For many years a friend was a Board member and volunteer with a non-profit organization and she has just been offered the full-time CEO position. One of my clients showed her leadership and honed her coaching skills after a long corporate career in HR through her work with a well-regarded career transition organization. She has since become a career consultant.
I had been on LinkedIn for many years and when I volunteered at a local career transition center organization, I contributed by helping others to set up their LinkedIn profiles. At first, I just taught group classes but then found many people needed additional one-on-one assistance. I not only re-discovered my love of teaching but learned I had a passion for coaching and that I had an innate curiosity about social media and now have a new career teaching and coaching how to effectively use LinkedIn.
Job Gap transition
It’s not uncommon for people to have long gaps in their career history. They may have been unable to find work for a while after being laid off or may have taken a break due to health issues, taking care of elderly family members or raising a family. Volunteer activities show you’ve kept up your skills, or even gained new skills, taking care of the books at a local shelter, running the local PTA, fund-raising for Alzheimer’s research, or helping others navigate the maze of medical paperwork.
Show that you are unique and will be someone others want to hire and to work with
Maybe you a volunteer at the pet shelter or help tutor new immigrants, work at your sailing club or help set up charity golf tournaments. Companies like employees who have outside interests.
*A word of caution here – Limit your personal sharing. I don’t recommend listing activities or organizations that are controversial, such as political, religious or social movements.
Do you put your volunteer experience in the specific area designated for that purpose on LinkedIn?
New visibility of Volunteer section on your LinkedIn profile
In general, I recommend that you put your volunteer experience in the specific area designated for that purpose on LinkedIn but there are exceptions.
There are several areas in your LinkedIn profile where you can add your volunteer skills – “Organizations” and/or “Volunteer” or how about in your experience list of positions held? Where should you add your volunteer experience? The answer is, “it depends.”
The Volunteer section is now highly visible just below the Education section. The Organizations section is now buried at the bottom of your profile and barely noticeable. I think that being a member of a Board for an organization is more significant on your professional profile than volunteering at the local Food Bank organization (worthy though that cause is) so you may want to manipulate things a bit and show your more “prestigious” positions under the Volunteer section and your work with the Scouts and Charity fundraiser under the organization section.
I’ve had clients who’ve done significant unpaid work on a Board and it sometimes belongs under the Experience section as if it was a job. What examples can you think of that might belong in a different area? Talk to me if you have situations that seem to need special treatment.
(From the series “Do Just One Thing,” dedicated to helping you complete and utilize your LinkedIn profile in just five minutes a day)
I would love to talk with you about the benefits to you of showcasing more of your volunteer and other experience on LinkedIn and how I could help you with your professional goals. Please schedule a free 20-minute strategy consultation to see how I might be able to assist you.