Ten Skills You Can Develop as a Volunteer

by Robert Frederick

When you volunteer, opportunities abound to develop skills – especially the 10 listed below.  The more you practice these skills, the more valuable you become as an employee and the more confident you will be when called upon to use them in the workplace.


  1. Observing – Monitor and assessing the actions, behaviors, and responses of individuals and groups during an activity and notice how those interactions affect the final outcome of the project.


  1. Listening – Give full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Make sure you are fully aware of the situation, your role and the goals sought.


  1. Reading – Understand written sentences and paragraphs in documents, including directions, instructions, client guidelines, regulations, safety warnings, equipment usage, goals and deadlines.


  1. Learning – Understand the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


  1. Speaking – Talk to others to convey information effectively. Understand how tone of voice, use of words, and body language affects the outcome of your statements.


  1. Critical Thinking – Use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


  1. Writing – Communicate effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


  1. Using Methods/Standards – Use scientific or established rules and methods to solve problems. Be open to learning different ways to complete a project.


  1. Coordinating – Plan to adjust to the flow of work within your team or from others who have responsibilities outside of your group in order to complete a project on time and with the quality standards agreed to.


  1. Instructing – Teach others how to do something with accuracy, consistency and understanding. This is important when working on large-scale projects that require many volunteers or have regular turnover.


Robert Frederick is a workforce development consultant at Passport for Good. He is a career coach and worked as a career development professional at SUNY College at Cortland and Schenectady County Community College.