Volunteering Can Help Your Job Search While Making It More Fun
If your job search has gone on longer than anticipated, you’re probably looking for new ways to boost your resume and job prospects. You may also want to maximize the time you have while you are unemployed. Volunteering for a job similar to the one you are pursuing can not only achieve these goals, it can be beneficial to both your job search and career in multiple ways. While many volunteer opportunities are found with non-profit organizations, there are usually roles to be filled in relevant areas, such as marketing, sales, fundraising, event planning, and grant and fund management.
Here's a list of the reasons you should consider volunteering:
Feeling a Sense of Purpose or Accomplishment
Most of us naturally want to feel useful and be a contributor to something. We want the sense of purpose that employment instills. When you donate your time and skills to a charity or worthy cause, you are helping to get important things done and support people in your community. There’s a lot to feel good about when you are working toward making a difference.
Expanding Your Skillset
Volunteering helps you hone your current skills but also develop new ones. It can also help you add more of those “soft skills” that employers look for in job candidates - time management, teamwork, project planning, communications and problem-solving. Through volunteering, you can acquire more marketable skills and accumulate diverse knowledge and experience that makes you more attractive to your target employers.
Filling Any Resume Gaps
Besides giving youadditional job experience that will look good on your resume, a volunteer position during a period of unemployment fills that gap in your resume. Employers like to see you have been consistently working, even if a position was unpaid. By volunteering, you’ll show you’ve stayed active and involved in your professional life, even while looking for a job.
Extending Your Network
Like any new job, when you join an organization as a volunteer, you are meeting other professionals who will become part of your network and can possibly provide introductions or connections to hiring managers with your target employers. In addition to making new networking contacts, your volunteer work can help you line up those much needed references in your chosen field.
Learning About New Opportunities or Careers
Volunteer work gives you the opportunity to learn about or explore different professions or industries from the one in which you are currently pursuing employment. You could potentially be drawn to another line of work and decide to use your new experience and current skills in a new career in an entirely new industry.
Boosting Your Self-Confidence and Self-Worth
To be working and contributing to an organization that is making a difference, even if the job is unpaid, will help to make you feel more fulfilled during your job search. Maintaining and building your self-confidence during a job search is extremely important, as confidence is one the top qualities companies look for in a new hire.
Demonstrating Your Values
Volunteering says positive things about you as a person. It shows your passion for social responsibility, your environment and your community. If your target employers have embraced social responsibility as part of their corporate culture, they will view you as a good cultural fit for their organization. In addition, your willingness to gain work experience for no pay is a sign of good character - another quality employers highly value.
Gaining Insider Advantage if a Paid Position Opens
In any job, including a volunteer position, you have insider access to new positions that open in the organization. If there is a position similar to what you’re looking for and you’re a perfect fit for it, then your volunteer gig will prove to be a win for both you and the organization.
Staying Engaged with the Work World
Volunteering can keep you up to speed on any trends or changes in your field. More importantly, employers will be more interested in you if you are currently employed. By volunteering, you are showing that you are motivated and taking the initiative to keep busy and make yourself useful. It will also get you out of the house and interacting with other professionals on a regular basis.
Giving Volunteering a Try
If you are job hunting, particularly if you’re a college student, a new college grad looking for your first job or someone changing careers, volunteering can give you the experience you need in the interim and the edge as a job candidate. You’ll gain new skills, contacts and industry knowledge - all very valuable when you are searching for your ideal job!
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