One of the hardest things about unemployment is filling up the hours of the day. It doesn’t matter how focused or industrious you are about finding a job, you can only send so many tailored resumes, so many masterfully crafted cover letters, and call so many offices before you get emotionally and physically drained. That’s why I recommend filling up the other hours of the day by volunteering with an organization you believe in.
This article is part of Bargaineering Career Week 2009 , a week-long series focused on your career – how to find a job, how to tailor your resume, how to find the job opportunities and how to nail the interview. This article is the third article of day one – career planning.
You don’t have volunteer every single day, just pick one day and donate a few of your hours to a cause you believe in. It only takes a few minutes to enter your your zip code and some causes you want to support into the search box at Serve.gov  (which takes you to Allforgood.org ). Within minutes you’ll be able to find a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule.
Still not convinced? Here’s why I think you should donate a few of your hours each week to a local charity:
- You’ll feel productive. This is probably the most valuable part about volunteering when you’re out of work. After hours of sending resumes that result in few phone calls, you’ll feel very unproductive despite doing so much. By volunteering, you’ll get to work hands-on and see the product of your effort. It’s a big psychological boost.
- You’ll be doing good. It always feels good to volunteer because you’re helping other people. You’re helping an organization further it’s goal of helping other people. Whatever it is, you’re working towards a good cause and that has to boost your morale.
- You’ll work with others. This has multiple benefits. First, you’ll be interacting with other people, which takes you out of the very solitary feeling of job hunting. Second, you might meet people who can help you find a job. The other volunteers are usually going to be employed or retired, which means they could even give you leads to openings in their organizations or former organizations.
- Volunteer organizations usually have employees… and job openings. When I was volunteering at Meals on Wheels, some of the drivers were paid. From what I understand, it wasn’t a lot of money (it was more about reimbursement for the gas and time), but charitable organizations aren’t 100% staffed by volunteers. You could find a little side work or contract work doing specific tasks for them… which beats unemployment.
Ultimately, volunteering is a way to boost morale in an otherwise difficult time. The prospects of finding a job with or through a volunteer organization is pretty low, but it’s there, so you should volunteer because it helps charities that are otherwise struggling and it will make you feel better. That, in turn, will make you a better job seeker and candidate when the opportunity presents itself.