Which philanthropic experiences and volunteer efforts make their way into your online profile? You serve on the board of a local non-profit, there was that volunteer effort you coordinated to mentor students at the nearby middle school- oh, and didn’t you do a Heart Walk a few years ago? Or was it a Hunger Walk…
It is crucial to incorporate some, though not all, of your charitable endeavors into your LinkedIn, blog or digital platform. Michael Shank, the incoming Director of Media Strategy at Climate Nexus, provides some insight gained from his career in a cause-driven space. He says, “Conveying the entire spectrum of personal philanthropic passion and professionalism in an online profile is a critical step in communicating what drives you. It gives the viewer, who may be a potential employer or newly established contact, a fuller picture of your involvement, initiative and inspiration. Without question, my local leadership and community advocacy has made positive impressions on professional contacts.”
A laundry list that includes every walk you’ve ever done might make it difficult for a viewer to discern where your real passion lies. Just as you wouldn’t want to list something on a resume that you couldn’t speak about in depth, only truly meaningful volunteer experiences should be highlighted on your digital profile. Things you only participated in once or twice a year probably don’t belong and some would caution job seekers against including affiliations with touchy or controversial issue groups. On the other hand, if it’s something you are deeply involved in and passionate about, you wouldn’t want to have to hide your involvement from a future employer.
Include Relevant Experience
Boards you’ve served on, efforts you’ve overseen in a leadership capacity or that were born of your own ingenuity, and ongoing volunteer commitments certainly deserve some screen space. Be sure to emphasize any work that is relevant to your career. Shank confirms this. “Since my day job involves work in the national and international policy space, contacts are consistently impressed that I’m so invested in local neighborhoods and nonprofits, grounding the macro in the micro and staying rooted in what’s real.”
Go beyond simply listing your affiliations and be a part of the digital conversation about your passion area. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and participate in (or start!) discussions. Sometimes potential donors and media are taking notes on these conversations and it might link you to a writing opportunity or larger platform through which to share your cause. LinkedIn offers a search function for the purposes of finding new board members and having a voice in these conversations will demonstrate your curiosity about the space and might lead to good connections.
The Heart of the Matter
At the end of the day, people will see through a profile that works too hard to broadcast that person’s good deeds. Go digital with the causes which truly matter to you in order to spread awareness, connect with others in a similar sphere and paint the fullest picture of who you are for potential employers. 41% of LinkedIn hiring managers consider volunteer experience as equally valuable as paid work. Shank agrees, “The important thing is to first be driven by a desire to help people, but then not afraid to tell people about it.”
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.