Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Volunteering 101 for Job Seekers

The first few days or weeks of being unemployed should be super fun (to offset how stressful they might be). Sleep late, read a book and actually have time to get some fresh air. However, if the job search doesn’t turn up something soon it may be time to put your free time to better use. Volunteering is a great way for job seekers to do something nice, earn valuable skills and have a reason to put on pants. Here are some ideas for volunteering, and some ways to help it complement your job search.

Volunteering in general is a great way to keep your professional skill set sharp, provided that you treat volunteering as seriously as a paying job. Look for positions that have something in common with your field, but be open-minded. Problem solving skills and managerial skills are every bit as important to a resume as more field-specific qualities. For example, the project management skills used in organizing a blood drive, or the problem solving skills in chaperoning a school field trip can be great additions to your resume. If you would still like some more specific skills, here are a few examples of career fields that can be matched up with volunteer opportunities:

Marketing/Business— Organizing fundraising efforts with local nonprofits
Journalism/Writing— Writing a newsletter for the community YMCA
Arts/Creative fields— Teaching a workshop at your local community center
Construction/Engineering— Volunteering expertise as a handy-person or project consultant

These are just a few possibilities. If you would like some suggestions for your field, leave a comment below and let the Spark Hire job seeker community brainstorm with you!

Volunteering can not only help job seekers keep their resumes healthy, it can also pave the way for great networking opportunities. Everyone loves volunteers, and the people you get to know while working in the community can be a big help to your job search. Be sure to mention your job search, and keep in contact with people who are in your field.

Of course, it is also possible that a volunteer position could lead directly to a paid job. Alison Green points out that employers would always prefer to hire someone they have worked with— and liked— over a candidate who is a stranger. If this is the goal, be sure to volunteer at an organization that you would like to work for- and that may be hiring in the near future. Don’t mention that you are a job seeker in your first conversation, but don’t hide the fact after everyone is impressed by your work ethic.

Have any of you job seekers had luck with volunteering on the job search? Leave a comment below.

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.

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