While human resource executives say that skills-based volunteering enhances job prospects for college graduates and returning military veterans, according to a new survey from Deloitte, less than half of those surveyed students (46 percent) and military personnel (48 percent) view volunteering at a nonprofit as a way to develop skills and experience for their careers.

The 2013 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey interviewed a total of 505 HR executives, college seniors and military veterans.

According to the polled HR executives:

•    When evaluating a job candidate, experience gained through skilled volunteering would be taken into account (81 percent)
•    Skilled volunteer experience makes a job candidate more desirable (76 percent)
•    Skilled volunteer experience makes a college graduate more desirable (81 percent)
•    Skilled volunteer experience makes a serviceman more desirable (78 percent)

"It is clear that the skills and experience gained through volunteering offer a competitive edge," stated Evan Hochberg, national director of community engagement at Deloitte Services LP. "However, when more than half of college grads and returning veterans don't consider volunteering to improve their employability, there is work to be done to help them see the upside of volunteer bridging as a viable job search option." 

A majority of HR executives (65 percent) also believe volunteering is beneficial for their employees and 88 percent said it contributes to a positive reputation. At the same time, 52 percent said volunteerism is an important element of their organization’s culture.

"As passionate advocates of skilled volunteerism and pro bono service in our communities, we are excited about its benefits as a bridge to employment," said Deloitte chief executive officer Joe Echevarria in a statement. "These findings align with our efforts to foster a college going culture, support returning veterans, and in the process make our communities and America stronger."

Deloitte’s IMPACT Survey aligns with another recent look into the benefits of volunteerism, the Corporation for National and Community Service’s research, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

"Many of us in the volunteer sector have long felt volunteering gives a boost to those looking for work, but we've never had solid research to back it up," said CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer in a statement.  "These reports provide strong evidence that volunteering is beneficial for jobseekers. Whether serving in AmeriCorps or sharing your professional skills at a nonprofit, volunteering can provide the skills, contacts, and leadership qualities that make you stand out in a competitive job market."

The full 2013 IMPACT results, and the eight previous surveys in the Deloitte research series, are available here.