The best way to get yourself into an ethical job

It’s one of the worst kept secrets in job-searching — the closest to a ‘guaranteed’ path to employment you’re ever going to find. Now a report from the US has confirmed it again with compelling empirical evidence:

You’re significantly more likely to find a job if you volunteer.

Published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (a US government body) in 2013, the study found that unemployed individuals who volunteer over the next year have 27 percent higher odds of being employed at the end of the year than non-volunteers.

Titled Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work?, the study found that the relationship between volunteering and employment holds stable regardless of a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, geographical area, or job market conditions.

And we think the relationship also applies to Australia, even though we’ve clearly got a very different job market to the US.

The agency used 10 years of data from the US Census Bureau and analysed a sample of more than 70,000 individuals 16 years or older who were looking for work. The study examined their volunteer and employment status over two years to determine whether there was a relationship between volunteering and securing a job.

The research found a (statistically significant) 27 percent increase in odds of employment for those who volunteered. The association between volunteering and employment remained consistent across each year of the study period and varying unemployment rates, suggesting that volunteering may provide an advantage regardless of economic conditions.

Importantly, the relationship was strongest among individuals without a high school qualification (51 percent increase in odds) and among individuals who lived in rural areas (55 percent increase in odds).

“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 CNCS.

“This report shows a definitive relationship — volunteers are more likely to be employed a year later than non-volunteers.

“We know that volunteering can help job seekers develop skills and expand professional contacts, creating a positive impression that can make a big difference in a competitive job market.”

The bottom line? Young or old, male or female, already employed or searching for a new job: if you’re looking for an ethical job but unsure where to start, find yourself a volunteer or internship role.

Whether it’s stuffing envelopes, cooking meals or sitting on a board of management, it’ll help you make the transition to the ethical job of your dreams!

This post was originally published on

Hero image: San José Library/Flickr.

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