does service boost employment?

(Cross-posted from the CIRCLE site) Yesterday, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS), announced $923,000 in research grants to increase the nation’s understanding and knowledge about the importance of volunteering, national service, and civic engagement in America.

CIRCLE was awarded one of the grants: $143,296 to explore whether including AmeriCorps service on resumes increases the employment prospects of AmeriCorps alumni.

Previous research suggests that participation in civic engagement activities, such as membership in AmeriCorps State and National programs, can have positive labor market outcomes for young people and that hiring managers see volunteering as relevant when making employment decisions. A study by CIRCLE director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, University of Wisconsin Professor Chaeyoon Lim, and me found that rates of civic engagement were strong predicators of employment growth after a recession. A CIRCLE study by Andrea Finlay and Constance Flanagan found that service experiences were linked to academic success for young adults.

However, it is not known whether being able to list AmeriCorps service on a resume increases prospects of employment. CIRCLE will conduct a randomized experiment to investigate this question. We will create fictitious resumes for applicants and will vary the service experiences and how they are described to see which forms of service and which ways of presenting it are most attractive to hiring managers.

CIRCLE director Kawashima-Ginsberg said, “High-quality service is beneficial for the people who serve as well as the communities they serve in. Hiring managers should treat challenging service as valuable preparation for the workforce. We will find out whether they do.”

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.