Even if you haven’t spent time working abroad or speak five languages, there is still hope for you to stand out from the crowd. HR professionals increasingly are paying attention to candidates’ hobbies and volunteer work. What for a long time was little more than a passing comment at the bottom of the resume to point out that you had a life outside work, Recruiters are not trying to use these points, along with the interview, to get an idea of candidates’ social skills. Hence, how you spend your free time has more influence on your chances to land the job than most people think.

 

Almost 40% of all Germans are doing some kind of volunteer work. The majority of that happens in sports clubs, but also emergency medical services, disaster control (like the THW), and support services for nursing homes pretty much rely on people who like to spend some of their free time helping others. This might happen in a direct and active role, or in posts like the club’s treasurer. Those activities don’t only enrich life with further experiences beyond one’s job and own family, but can be put to use when applying for a job.

 

Some people have more than one honorary office. In that case, you should pick the two most important ones to put into your resume. Otherwise the recruiter could get the impression that your free time and private activities are rated higher than any employer would like. It is therefore advisable to shortly mention the honorary office at the bottom of the cover letter in one simple sentence, especially if the office is one of the apparently dangerous ones like at the fire department.

 

Of course, it is always advisable to if possible find some direct connection between the volunteer activities and the job you are applying for. Investing some time and effort in this before sending the application can really pay off. This is about the often discussed soft skill, but also very tangible expertise that some volunteer work can give, which might be important for certain jobs.

 

What you need to be careful about are political activities and those in religious groups. For those, it much depends on what companies you are applying at. If the company happens to be a foundation with ties to a certain party, some dedication to the party can be of advantage. The same is true for establishments run by the churches, like hospitals or child care centers. If no such connection exists, the mention of your activities in those areas can easily backfire.

 

When describing your honorary office, check whether it requires one of the following skills:

 

  • Team spirit
  • Responsibility
  • Organizational talent
  • Dedication
  • Resilience
  • Dependability
  • Communication skills
  • Sensitivity
  • Self-critical
  • Analytical expertise
  • Discipline

 

Someone who regularly supports confirmation groups at their local church and organizes and escorts trips for the young people, for example, indirectly points out that they are responsible, have organizational talent, and are resilient to stress.

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