A recent report by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) claims that volunteering can contribute to reducing unemployment rates. This study points to volunteering in the community and for nonprofit organizations and says this about volunteering:
“Participation in civil society can develop skills, confidence, and habits that make individuals employable and strengthen the networks that help them find jobs. 59% of volunteers in national service programs believe their volunteer service will improve their chance of finding jobs, perhaps because it helps them learn marketable skills or because it broadens their professional contact networks, or both.”
Let’s revisit why volunteering is beneficial to your job search success.
1. Volunteering is a great way to do a positive thing. You may consider choosing an organization where your efforts are meaningful in a big way. The Salvation Army comes to mind. Every year around Christmas holiday thousands of volunteers ring the bells in front of businesses. All for the sake of helping the less fortunate get by during the holidays. A customer of mine said she volunteers at a soup kitchen. While she’s an accountant, she has a soft spot in her heart for the less fortunate. This appeals to employers.
2. Volunteer to network for your next job. Choose an organization that’s in the industry in which you’d like to work. If marketing is your forté, approach a company that needs a graphic artist or publicist to design some art for their website or write a press release or two. This organization in which you’ve managed to get your foot in the door can help you with leads at other organizations, especially if you do a smashing job. The director will want to help you because you’ve come across as competent and likeable. Who knows, you could possibly join the company if a position opens up…or is created.
3. Develop or enhance some skills that will make you more marketable. You’ve had it in your head to start blogging but haven’t had the time to dedicate to it. The organization that took you on as a volunteer in their marketing department not only can help you network; it can assist you in enhancing your diverse writing skills. Your approach might be to offer starting a blog for them, as the rest of the marketing department is up to their elbows in alligators. They gain a talented writer to write entries, and you learn the fine art of blogging. “Tie the skills needed to do the volunteer position back to the skills needed to support or enhance your profession,” says Dawn Bugni, owner of The Write Solution. “This keeps your skills sharp. You might learn something new….”
4. Feel useful. Yes, instead of sitting at home and watching The View, you can get back into work mode. Do you remember work mode? It begins with getting up at 6:00am, doing some exercise, leaving for some job from 8:00am to 5:00pm, all the while having that feeling of productivity. When you get home from volunteering, you can watch those episodes of The View on DVR.
5. Volunteering will pad your résumé. Yes, employers look at gaps in your work history. Instead of having to explain (or worse yet, not having the chance) why you’ve been out of work for three months, you can proudly say that you’ve been volunteering at Organization A in their marketing division where you authored press releases, created their newest website designs, and started them on your way to a new blogging campaign. Of course you’ll indicate on your résumé, in parenthesis, that this experience was (Volunteer) work. Nonetheless, it was work.
Any time you feel ripped off for working without pay, remember why you’re doing it; to do something positive, to network, to develop or enhance new skills, to feel useful, and to pad your résumé. If these five reasons aren’t enough, then by all means stay home and watch The View.