Wednesday, January 8, 2014

9 Top Reasons to Volunteer When You Are Looking for a Job! With Proof!

I know!  You’ve heard it before.  Hear me out why volunteering while you are looking for work is sooooo important!

A few months back a group of us (over 20) volunteered to help with the Women’s Build for Habitat for Humanity.  We got pink hard hats which we blinged out, got to work in the VERY hot sun and with the help of a lot of power tools, we helped build a house for someone in need.  It was sweaty hard work and we even had to use a Portapotty!  Yuck!  It was one of the best experiences in my life!
We were just part of a larger group and as we worked and talked with the other volunteers I realized that there were a lot of people there who were all connected in the community.  I was sweating (and grunting) next to bank managers, retail sales people, executive directors, business owners and a wide variety of other positions.  As we continued to build we started talking about what we did and why we were here volunteering.
I made a lot of contacts that day with a face-to-face shared experience.  I have called on a few of them since then when I needed some help for other things and some have contacted me as well.  What an opportunity!
You can get the same results! 
Cathy was looking for a job as a Business Analyst.  She had applied for a job at a company but needed a certification.  While working on her certification, she started volunteering at the company.
She was able to do job leads and help increase the income of the business!  She also helped them respond to several proposals.  The intent was to show them what she could do.  “The idea was that they could see the skill sets I was bringing to the table. It assisted me in getting hired,” said Cathy.  Cathy says the experience helped her in multiple ways.  (See below)
According to a recent study, skills and dedicated volunteer work makes a job candidate more appealing to human resources executives.  According to a summary of this report in the Huffington Post, Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power, “about 81% of hiring managers felt that volunteer work makes graduates more attractive job candidates.  However, only 46% of the surveyed college students felt that volunteering would help them secure future jobs.”
In a press release, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency promoting service and volunteering stated “Many of us in the volunteer sector have long felt volunteering gives a boost to those looking for work, but we’ve never had solid research to back it up.”  She also stated, “These reports provide strong evidence that volunteering is beneficial for jobseekers.  Volunteering can provide the skills, contacts and leadership qualities that make you stand out in a competitive market.”
And that’s not the only study around!  According to a study “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work?” Someone who volunteers is 27% more likely to land a job through volunteering than a non-volunteer.
According to a press release in June, 2013 by CNCS, “the report’s finding of a 27 percent increase in odds of employment was statistically significant. The association between volunteering and employment remained consistent across each year of the study period and varying unemployment rates, suggesting that volunteering may provide an advantage regardless of economic conditions. Importantly, the relationship was strongest among individuals without a high school diploma (51 percent increase in odds) and individuals who live in rural areas (55 percent increase in odds).  
“This research suggests that people with limited skills or social connections – particularly those without a high school education – may see an extra benefit to volunteering as a way to open doors and level the playing field,” said Dr. Christopher Spera, director of evaluation and research at CNCS.  
Here are the 10 Top Reasons to Volunteer When You Are Looking for a Job!
Volunteering makes you feel better and boosts your spirits!  We all know that job searching can be very tough.  It’s almost like a constant rejection.  This is bound to affect our self-esteem and everyone should know that this will eventually reflect on how we present ourselves to others and most especially to potential employers.  Volunteering can take your mind off your own troubles.  It will also give you confidence that you ARE capable and worth hiring.  By volunteering you will stay upbeat and positive because you are getting out there and doing something!  The networking opportunities are an added bonus.
You can add volunteer work on your résumé as a job.  Do you have a gap in your résumé because it has been more than 6 months since your last job?  By volunteering, you get to list it as a job and it will show an employer that you are still using your skills and staying honed for work!
You can learn new skills that could be valuable to an employer.  Not only are you keeping your skills up to date by volunteering, but you are also learning new skills that you can now list on your résumé and bring to the table when you interview!  Did you take a lead on a project?  Supervise a team of volunteers?  Coordinate efforts?  What a great opportunity to not only learn but show off your leadership skills!
Employers want to see that you are doing something while you are job searching.  They appreciate the fact that you are out there and giving back to the community.  Volunteering also shows that you’re still engaged in the workforce while learning new skills.
You increase your networking capabilities.  When you volunteer, you meet many people in a lot of different positions.  You now have new contacts, who have their own contacts, who have their own contacts…  Well, you get the jist of it.  You have increased your networking ability exponentially!
You improve your LinkedIn profile.  By putting your volunteer work on your LinkedIn profile, it shows you are well rounded and have more appeal.  It also allows you to “link” with anyone affiliated with the place where you volunteered and any affiliates!  Think of the networking capacity there!  You can contact potential employers.  Besides, think of how many employers volunteer themselves?  You get to meet them on neutral turf and get to know them.  They might not be hiring but I would bet they will know someone who is!
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience.  When talking with people who recently completed school for a new career they usually lament that no one will hire them because they have no experience.  Volunteering is a great way to get experience and show a potential employer that not only do you talk the talk you can walk the walk.
You’re the first to know if a position opens up!  There might not be any openings when you start volunteering, but we all know that the only thing constant is change.  If and when a position becomes available, you will have the inside track of knowing before any “outsiders”.
Get your foot in the door!  If you volunteer at a place where you want a job, you will be a known quantity.  Let’s face it- when you go to an interview, they really only want to know 3 things.
1.   Are you qualified to do the job?
2.   Will you stay if we hire you?
3.   Will I like working with you?
If you perform your volunteer job like it was a paying job you will demonstrate what it would be like to work with you.  You would be demonstrating your outstanding abilities such as leadership, work ethic  and professionalism.  By volunteering, you have already answered those 3 crucial questions!  You’ve already passed the test!
Well?  What do you think?  Have you volunteered and gotten a job or connection that was helpful?