Can Volunteer Work Help You Land a Job?

5 years ago

If you are re-careering or out of work and looking to re-enter the workforce should you consider volunteering for an organization as part of your job strategy?

Absolutely yes!

Here's why volunteering is a great way to increase your chances of landing a job you really want. It empowers you to:

  • Learn new skills in a real-world application that can be leveraged on your resume. (This is extra great when re-careering. I did this and it paid big dividends.)
  • Be a good known quantity. In the deluge of job applications, having a foot in the door where you've already proven yourself speaks volumes if you want to work for the organization at which you volunteered.
  • Meet new people to add to your growing network of professional contacts.
  • Help a charity and cause you care about regardless of whether or not you get a job there.
  • Fill a gap in your chronological work experience if you are re-entering the workforce after a hiatus or have been without work for an extended period.
  • Gain nonprofit sector experience.

Credit Image: Fort Meade via Flickr

If you want to increase your chances of turning that volunteer gig into full-time paid employment, you need to be strategic. You need to do more than just show up once a month or so and do basic tasks.

Be strategic: Choose roles and responsibilities that tie into the career you seek.

Be seen: Choose projects that will have you be visible to management.

Work hard: Leave the ego at the door and work hard for the cause. You are volunteering not just because you'd like a job but because you believe in the work the organization does. Demonstrate that passion.

Be professional: While you may be a volunteer, your professionalism needs to show. Be serious about your work and cognizant of the image you present.

Be up front: If your goal is full-time work, tell your boss. There is no reason to let your aspirations be a secret. Just don't come across as feeling entitled to a paid position.

If you're not sure where to volunteer, ask around, Google search causes that interest you, or research local and national charities at Volunteer Match.

How has volunteering improved your career opportunities? Please share in the comments...

Paula Gregorowicz plucks women off the hamster wheel of overwhelm, struggle, and self-doubt and guides them to a purposeful path of building authentic and successful businesses.
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