5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Find Your Next Job

You can find a new career while helping others

- Posted on Nov 3, 2014

Senior Citizens Volunteering

For those who are out of work, finding a new job can seem like a daunting task. That goes both for those unemployed after being in the workforce, and for newly minted graduates who have not yet found a job after finishing schooling. Fortunately, there is something the unemployed can do while they continue their job search – volunteer work. They can end up helping others – and themselves – by doing so.

Volunteering can definitely boost a jobseeker’s chances of finding a paying job. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering increases the overall odds of an unemployed person finding a job by 27%. Those chances of finding a new job increase to 51% for those without a high school diploma, and 55% for those living in rural areas. Here are the reasons why jobseekers should join the 62 million Americans who participate in volunteer work:

1) You'll feel better. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 19% of the long-term unemployed are battling depression. Some of that depression can be brought on by the shame and isolation they feel about their situation. Volunteering may help them feel better about themselves, and foster their spiritual growth. Dr. Stephen Post, the co-author of the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving, tells Guideposts.org that “When you engage the part of the brain associated with compassion, it actually pushes negative thoughts away.” In addition, the act of helping those who are less fortunate can help foster a feeling of gratitude about the things the volunteers do have in life.

2) You can network your way into a new job. As many as 41%  of jobseekers find new jobs via networking. But how can they find new connections when they are out of work? That is where volunteering can provide a boost. That is thanks to the sheer number of people that volunteers will come into contact with, any of whom may know of a suitable job out there. In some cases, the volunteer may even end up with a paid job for the organization he or she volunteered for.

3) You can fill in time gaps on your resume. As those who are unemployed know all too well, there are a number of employers out there who refuse to even consider hiring the unemployed. Others may be more open-minded, but will want to see that the unemployed person did something during that gap of time. Showing volunteer work can help eliminate that dreaded resume gap. In addition, recruiters looking at LinkedIn profiles will be able to see the volunteer work, which could lead to additional job opportunities.

4) You'll gain new job skills. Many of the skills involved with volunteer work can have real-life benefits. For example, simply updating the social media pages for a volunteer organization could help the volunteer gain critical experience as a social media strategist. And cooking meals at a soup kitchen could give the volunteer skills that could help the person get a job at a restaurant.

5) You can test drive new careers. Volunteering can give those considering a career change an opportunity to learn more about the field. For example, if you're interested in working in a field with a largely ederly clientele, volunteering at a senior center or a nursing home can help you see if you have a knack for connecting with that demographic. Then, if the jobseeker finds that the field is not for them, they can move on to something else. And if they do find that they have great skills in the field, they now have tangible experience that they can show a future employer. 

To get started at finding available volunteer opportunities, visit VolunteerMatch.org or Serve.org. In addition, Guideposts has opportunities for prayer volunteers at OurPrayer.

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