It’s common knowledge that volunteering is an effective tool in everyone's job search toolkit. In fact, the Corporation for National and Community Service “found that volunteering is associated with a 27% increase in odds of finding employment” (2013).
When most people think of volunteering, they think of planting trees, feeding the homeless, or cleaning up a beach – all of which are well and good. But there’s more to volunteering than just gaining experience for your resume or expanding your network.
Truly accelerate your job search with my unique three-pronged approach to volunteering.
Most of us have at least one or two causes or organizations that we donate money to – that’s volunteering our ‘treasure’. For example, I donate to the private university at which I work to help support scholarships.
Philanthropy is virtuous in and of itself, of course, but many organizations also trade donations – at certain levels – for access. That access can include everything from invitations to VIP events to face time with organization leadership.
So if you’re targeting a specific company in your job search, find out which non-profits they donate to, support or are otherwise affiliated with. If you have the resources, consider making a donation to those same non-profits; it may just help you get a foot in the door.
How often do you use your workplace skills and talents on your off time? Most of us, after work, we might hit the gym, prepare dinner, enjoy a glass of wine, read to the kids, watch the evening news. But we should be using our skills outside of work, too, and share them broadly with our community.
If you’re a number-crunching budget guru who eats Excel spreadsheets for breakfast, why not lend those talents to worthy non-profit struggling to balance their books?
If you’re a marketing whiz and social media savant, why not lend those talents to a worthy non-profit who wants to reach a broader audience?
Don’t volunteer just to gain experience; rather, volunteer so that others can gain from your experience. Leverage your skill set to support issues and causes you believe in.
Along the way, you’re sure to meet people who will want to support you in return. They will write you a LinkedIn recommendation, volunteer to be a reference, or help facilitate an important introduction.
When we’re in job search mode, we sometimes view volunteering as a means to an end. (i.e., “I’m only volunteering so I can expand network.”)
But did you know that “volunteering is great for well-being—in fact, on average only health and employment prospects are more important” (The Economist, 2014).
I agree. Recently, I enjoyed spending a few weeks volunteering at the San Francisco Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (SPCA) as a ‘cat socializer.’ Spending time with those cats relieved my stress and always brought a smile to my face.
Employers want to hire people who have a positive mental outlook, people who are hard working and motivated. If you’re facing down a long, difficult job search, then get out there and volunteer. It’ll lift your spirits.
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- Dylan T.H.