Serve Your Community AND Career: Volunteer


April 10-16, 2011 is National Volunteer Week. Take this time to think about how you and your family might serve your community for a day, a few months, or ongoing.

Your volunteer activities not only help to build your community, your actions can also build your work skills and increase your chances of finding a new job.

Employers like to hire people who have the right skills for the job. These skills can come from a past job or from volunteer work. Employers are also more likely to hire an unemployed person who used their time between jobs to better themselves, give back to the community, or were otherwise productive.

Imagine you are an employer looking at resumes of several people who were out of work for six months or more. One candidate has no recent job or activities listed. When the interview asks what that person has done for the past six months, what will that candidate say, other than “I’ve been looking for a job?”

Wouldn’t you rather go into a job interview and say “I took advantage of my time away from work to  increase my event planning skills by volunteering to organize by church’s bake sale. I also increased my computer skills by working one day a week in my child’s school office.”

There are many ways to volunteer your time and talents. VolunteerMatch describes a few types of service you might not have thought of.

Virtual Volunteering
If you can’t volunteer in person, no problem. There are thousands of ways to help as a virtual volunteer. For example, you can do graphic design to help cure cancer, “adopt a mom” to help birth mothers adjust after adoption, or use your language skills to translate documents into English.

Voluntourism
Want to travel and feel useful at the same time? “Voluntourism” combines domestic or international travel with community involvement, enabling you to see more of the real world while also helping to solve local problems. Cross-Cultural Solutions is one of many great agencies offering these trips.

Microvolunteering
This new type of volunteering allows nonprofits to split up parts of a project so that it’s super-convenient, bite-sized, and crowd-friendly. At VolunteerMatch, keep an eye open for projects like updating a map of oil slick impacts, contributing your info for a health survey, or tagging these images from Flickr.

Disaster Volunteering
We never know when a natural disaster or catastrophic event will happen. When one does, you can sign up to help out using your special skills, or just be there to do whatever is needed. The American Red Cross is always looking for people to help across the country.

More Volunteer Info:

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2 thoughts on “Serve Your Community AND Career: Volunteer

  1. Exactly — there is a significant amount of benefit that can be derived from volunteering. In addition to building skills, it can also grow a job seeker’s network; even if done virtually, a connection is still made with the individuals who manage the volunteer program.

    Another great resource, particularly if someone is looking for an international volunteer opportunity, is http://www.idealist.org.

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