Defining a ?Volunteer?


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What does ?volunteer? mean to you?  For many, it is free labor.  For some, it is someone that has extra time on their hands and can do busy work.  The Volunteer Management industry has specific definitions for the different types of volunteers that serve our community.  All of these roles have the potential for you to meet your employment goals.         


The Traditional Volunteer role is what we typically think of most often.  This role usually involves a long-term commitment, possibly a 1-year commitment, training opportunities and possible leadership roles.  It usually involves a team approach for project work.  A traditional volunteer is usually expected to work a regular schedule and maintain a commitment to an organization.  This role closely mirrors the same expectations an organization may have of an employee so this can easily be added to a resume, especially if additional training is offered.  

This role is not always a good fit for everyone but, for many, both volunteers and organizations that use volunteers, this is the assumption about volunteer roles.  


We are also seeing more of the Skill-Based Volunteer.  This volunteer is typically a professional with a specific set of skills that works on a needs-based basis.  This can be a virtual role or for short-term projects. This is a great fit for a professional that may not be able to find appropriate employment in a location or they are not able to work due to family situations.  A skill-based volunteer role can easily be codified to a resume to fill the gaps that many military spouses are uncomfortable with. The assumption for this volunteer is expected to already possess the skills needed to fulfill this role. 


We are also seeing more of the Episodic Volunteer role.  This is the volunteer that commits time on their own terms.  It most likely represents a person that may volunteer for the same role in an annual event for an organization, but they are not able to commit to a traditional volunteer role.  This can also represent a volunteer that may participate in an annual Day of Service in a community.  Depending on the project, this volunteer role can also easily be added to a resume.  This role is a good introduction for a new volunteer.  Short term commitment is the key for this type of volunteer role. 


Finally, due to the over-scheduling nature of our daily lives, Micro-Volunteering is becoming more and more popular.  People want to contribute to their communities but are only able to commit micro-bursts of time. This is also an option for younger volunteers to contribute to their community or complete a project that may be required for scholarship or community service.   This is why community Days of Service are becoming more and more popular.  This volunteer focuses on a short-term project that brings the community together to improve the community.   

With all of these options, someone seeking to volunteer to boost their employment skills should be able to find a good fit for their schedule and their skills.  


The next article will address how to capture your volunteering on a resume for employment.


?Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.?  

Howard Zinn


Written By: Milinda Rau

                 Outreach Specialist