In a previous post, I recommended that every stay-at-home parent reentering the workplace should consider volunteering. I also suggested that you include that volunteer experience on your resume, particularly if it is relevant to your skill set. There are several types of volunteer positions and here’s what I would recommend: first and foremost, find an organization that you feel passionate about; next, consider a position on their board or a committee, especially if your skill set aligns with their need; last, take on an individual project or something substantial that will maximize your time and challenge you. Full disclaimer: I worked for several non-profits and relied heavily on volunteers, which means that I know firsthand the importance of your commitment to that organization.

Now, here is why I think it’s important to YOU.

1) Networking. We all know the obvious reasons why networking is important, but a not so obvious reason is that the coordinator or director could act as a reference for you when you start applying.

2) Confidence/Self Worth. Those beautiful, precious kids that you are raising are physically and emotionally draining. Giving something back to the community might just be the confidence boost you need to remind you that you possess a myriad of skills, and at one time someone paid you for your expertise.

3) Keeps you sharp. If the only help the non-profit needs is stuffing envelopes, go ahead and do it, but try to aim for more skilled activities.

4) Makes you accountable. The important learning here is that you might be out of practice following deadlines and working under someone else’s direction (I should say, under another adult’s direction – ha!).

5) Interview. Last and absolutely most important is that volunteering gives you something to talk about at the interview.

You will no doubt be asked questions about projects you worked on, yours strengths and weaknesses, difficult personalities you had to deal with, a time when you missed a deadline, and on and on and on. Answering those questions with anything having to do with a toddler is completely unacceptable (although very tempting!).

Now go out and volunteer!