September 19, 2013
How volunteering can help you get a job
You know that volunteering is good for your community. It's good for you, too. People who volunteer live longer, have lower rates of depression, enjoy better physical health, have more friends and are more self-confident.
What you may not know is that volunteering can help you get a job. How?
It's a great way to grow your network. If you're targeting your job search to a particular company or companies (and you should be), volunteer where employees of those companies do.
It looks good on your resume, especially if your jobless period has stretched out. Volunteering tells potential employers that you are an energetic, compassionate person. If you are a recent college grad, volunteering is an excellent way to beef up what might otherwise be a thin resume.
It can be a way to acquire new skills. For example, if you're a graphic designer who wants to move into PR, you could volunteer to not only design the logo for a local charity, but also write the copy for its brochure. Voilà -- a new skill to put on your resume.
It's great for your morale. Let's face it -- a long, fruitless job hunt can start to make you feel like a loser. This is where putting your focus on others can help. Volunteering rejuvenates you, renews your sense of self-worth and fills you with positive feelings of accomplishment. And this attitude will spread to your job hunt.
It can help you test-drive possible careers. Interested in, say, health care? Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home -- you'll find out pretty fast whether this is a world where you want to spend your working life. Naturally, volunteering puts you in the perfect position to make contacts, meet potential mentors and learn about opportunities or job openings in your future field.
Bonus tip: Treat your volunteer work like a job. Sure, you may be "only" dishing up free meals for the homeless -- but the server standing next to you just might be the CEO of a company you'd love to work for.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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