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7 ways volunteering can help your job search

Experience counts in an employment hunt, even if you didn’t earn a dime for your time.

1. Volunteering demonstrates your initiative.

Pitching in for a charity, club, educational cause, or a political or special interest organization might show a prospective employer that you are a person of determination, energy, and motivation. Hirers love to find self starters, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done.

Score one for the volunteers.

2. Volunteering keeps you busy and current.

Why mope your way through a season of unemployment? By sharing your time and talents as a volunteer with your chosen group, you can stay on schedule. This endeavor keeps you up and dressed and engaged in the working world.

3. Volunteering helps to build your personal and professional network.

Networking may be the single most important strategy for today’s job hunter. And volunteering is an excellent way to plug in with other people. What’s more, many volunteers say they meet the most interesting can-do sorts of folks while they are helping with a cause they mutually support.

4. Volunteering gives you a chance to polish your skills.

On-the-job training is a lifetime pursuit, no matter what career field you have picked. Why let your skills become rusty and tired, if you are out of work for a time? By volunteering in a way that employs your professional abilities, you can continue honing your training.

Are you an accountant, a computer technician, a florist, a journalist, or a park ranger? How about finding a way to continue applying your skills to real-world applications – even if you do so for goodwill, rather than for pay, for a spell?

5. Volunteering offers you an opportunity to test your abilities in new areas.

Non-profit organizations are frequently understaffed, so adept volunteers may be called upon to try their hands at tasks they may not have done before. Often, individuals find new interests and talents they previously had no idea they possessed. The job field application potential for these personal discoveries is immeasurable.

6. Volunteering reveals your personal character.

People who give their time for good causes, without expecting remuneration, are generally seen as altruistic, caring, and ethical. Can you imagine how this might affect a potential employer’s perception of a job applicant?

7. Volunteering beefs up your resume.

Does your work experience have a significant time gap between positions? Maybe you took a few years off to parent your kids, to take a sabbatical, to recover from a major health condition, or to take an extended trip.

If that gap is filled with a solid volunteer effort (or multiple ones), a possible hirer will likely take interest, particularly if your volunteering showed leadership and responsibility.

Did you:

  • Serve on the school PTA?
  • File tax returns for a local charity?
  • Run a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop?
  • Coach a Little League team?
  • Organize a food pantry for the homeless?
  • Tutor local students with homework during or after school?
  • Build homes for needy families?
  • Provide end-of-life care with a hospice group?

List it on your resume. Make a list of references. And get the pre-employment conversation started.

7 ways volunteering can help your job search
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