Most college students and recent grads are busy trying to find jobs to bolster their resume and land them their first career job. Likewise, those who have been out of work for some time don’t want gaps in their resume. Volunteer opportunities offer job seekers both a way to enrich their resume and continue to improve their job skills.
Take Robert, for instance. He was interested in working in the genetics field. He began volunteering at a campus research lab his sophomore year of college. At first, he was doing menial tasks, but as those at the lab became familiar with him and his worth ethic, his responsibilities increased. The director, a world-renowned research, saw how bright Robert was as well as his passion and dedication and began working with him in a paid position. When Robert graduated, he had several years experience working under a leading edge researcher, which helped him get into a top-notch graduate school. Today he is running his own lab.
If you are looking to enhance your resume as Robert was, remember that volunteer opportunities can provide valuable experience and job skills. When looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider these types:
Opportunities that help you build connections. Sometimes who you know can be just as valuable as what you know. Volunteering can give you a chance to connect with those who can help you in the future. Robert may not have gotten into such a prestigious graduate school if he didn’t have a letter of recommendation from the head researcher at the lab where he volunteered. Now that he has his own lab, he keeps in contact with that researcher, and they even sometimes collaborate.
Opportunities that allow you to show leadership. Employers are looking for those who will be loyal and dedicated employees, but those are relatively easy to find. Even more, they are looking for those who can become leaders within the company, and there is no better way to show your leadership skills than to have a leadership role. That is not easy to come by at most jobs, but you may be able to do so within a volunteer opportunity. Rina studied psychology in college and also volunteered at a suicide prevention center. For the first year, she worked the phones. The second year, she began to help train others who were learning to work at the call center. Based on her experience, she was able to suggest some changes in the training, which were implemented and show not only that she is dedicated, but also that she wants to improve those places she works for and that she has initiative.
Opportunity to find a paying job. Many people don’t want to bother volunteering because they feel that working for free will take away time from their job search. However, that thinking is often faulty. If you are a good volunteer, you never know who may take notice and offer you a job. Even if you aren’t offered a job directly, you could make connections that could eventually lead to a job.
Catherine lost her job as an attorney, and she refused to take any jobs that were “below her income requirements.” Instead, she spent much of her time at home, job searching. One way she may have been able to find a job is to volunteer to work pro bono at a firm. Not only would she have been helping clients, but she would have been visible to those who may be looking for a good attorney.
Whether you are a high school or college student looking to get more experience or a recent college grad or someone who is unemployed, selectively choosing volunteer opportunities can help you with your job search. In addition, you are doing something good for the community and bolstering your resume.
Have you volunteered? Has volunteering helped you find a job?