When you volunteer your time, you open yourself to a plethora of job opportunities. If you are currently unemployed, you might ask, "If I cannot find a paying job, why would I use my time to work for free?" You'd have a very valid question, and this article will help you to see why working for "free" may pay you more for your time than you thought possible. There are many reasons people volunteer their time. Some people are retired and enjoy spending time sharing their expertise with the community in their spare time. Other people have a very strong passion for some issue, whether it is poverty, the environment, civil rights, or some other issue personal to them, so they spend time working toward improving the conditions affecting their cause. Working for some goal in that way is incredibly gratifying in itself; however, there are ways you can work toward a passion while gaining some powerful benefits outside of improving the lives of others.
* Gaining New Skills: Volunteering is a great way to acquire experience that your past jobs or internships did not provide. Examples could be: Organizing a fundraiser to gain project management skills or coordinating a project for leadership and management skills.
By volunteering your time for an agency or a group, you can not only gain valuable work experience, but you can inherit important points of contacts as well as a reputation for the good things you do in your community. Aside from gaining those benefits which can help you acquire a good job, you may be able to learn what you need to learn so that you can launch your own business. The contacts you make and the knowledge you gain from your volunteer work will expose you to key concepts of many types of businesses.
* Make Networking Contacts: You never know who you might meet while volunteering. In fact, almost 43% of volunteers have at least a bachelor’s degree—so there is a good chance you will meet a professional while volunteering. If you volunteer at places related to your target career, you may meet people who are working in jobs similar to the one you want.
If you have a specialty, whether it is music, art, writing, or a more technical specialty such as computer programming, you can volunteer to teach a class for one day a week with your local Adult and Community Education Center. Those centers are usually part of the public school system, and they generally offer paid positions, but they sometimes solicit for volunteer teachers. By volunteering your time, you can show that you are adept at teaching the skill, and you can show that you are an asset to the center as an instructor. You might gain a paid position with the center, but you will also connect your skills to the community. A future employer can see that you taught a class on a subject and may hire you if that subject is in any way significant toward the skills needed to perform the job you are seeking.
* Emphasize your ambition: Volunteering shows you have a sense of civic responsibility and that you have a charitable side. Employers are looking for future employees that have passion and involvement with the community.
* Add New Experience: Be sure to include your responsibilities on your résumé. Mention duties, accomplishments, results, and awards just as you would for employment. Be sure to include the organization name and dates.
Volunteer experience is also professional experience. List the organization and dates, and instead of using the title "volunteer," use your responsibilities as a title -- "project coordinator" or "instructor." Mention your accomplishments, results, or awards like any other job, without being misleading.
Using your time to gain new skills and help your community -- either while looking for employment or while working -- highlights your willingness to jump in, learn new things, and do more.
* Gain Self-worth and Confidence: Volunteering can help you impact the lives of others. There are opportunities to tutor, plan events, coordinate programs, etc. Volunteering will give you the feeling that you have made your community a little better.