When Volunteering Helps Your Job Search by Fei Lim

As a volunteer, individuals offer their services without receiving a salary or wage in return. It is an act that is performed of his or her choosing and desire. Sometimes, volunteering is a decision that is made because one wishes to give back to their community or wants to feel the warmth of helping others.

While others undertake volunteering for a different reason - furthering their job search efforts. In order to obtain a paying job, many turn to the allure of volunteering, which can open many doors from a wide range of opportunities that may emerge during their stay with a company, business, or association.

Although you are not getting paid for your time, energy, and effort, volunteer activity is real work, which often results in some sort of final performance, accomplished task, or level of exerted force. It is through various achievements that volunteers complete real work tasks that others may get paid to do.

Often, volunteers assist those on the payroll in accomplishing the daily, weekly, monthly, and something yearly duties scattered about an office or other work setting. During these moments of helping out, a wealth of information and experience is gained. For some, the knowledge and additional skills they develop while volunteering can help in their search for paid employment.

Let's take the volunteer work that occurs within the medical world. Hospitals provide the perfect environment for future nurses and doctors to learn the ropes of the work setting they will hopefully fall into once they've completed their studies.

By working side-by-side or in the same vicinity with the examples of the very profession they wish to undertake, they are preparing a great deal for landing the job they wish to acquire when the time is right or the opportunity presents itself.

The job experience allows one to tap into the hands-on familiarity that sets others ahead of the rest when preparing a resume or interviewing for an employment possibility. Volunteers at a hospital may learn tricks of the trade on how to deal with uncooperative patients or become aware in the latest techniques regarding getting the most accurate body temperature or blood pressure reading. The experience is invaluable as interactive contact provides lessons that books cannot teach or prepare students for.

Regardless of whether you are seeking your first job, need a new career path, or have been replaced by what some may view as a more accomplished employee, volunteering may give you the extra boost you need to get on the right path. Volunteering can also help fill in the gaps of a resume when you have been out of work or need to reestablish a new crop of networking options.

When it comes time to prepare a resume for potential employers, volunteer labor counts as work experience, which appears as a positive aspect to those reviewing your credentials, skills, and know-how. Also, well-rounded individuals who have experienced a wealth of different job fields through volunteering, increase their marketability as the practice expands their overall scope of knowledge and skill.

Volunteering also comes back to you in ways that boost your chances of gaining paid employment. Most volunteer work results in providing a good reference, which is much needed when filling out job applications. The volunteer also learns valuable skills, such as communication, teamwork, and motivation that will carry on wherever their next job experience takes them. Volunteering also helps to build a professional network that can help future job searches.

Whether you are running an errand down the hallway, chatting with fellow workers in the elevator, or attending a company cocktail party, volunteering brings you closer to an assortment of people who could prove quite beneficial. This is why it is important to make a good impression wherever you are in the job setting; you never know who will be your next ally in your job search. Also, numerous volunteers have found paid employment within the very company or job site they have spent time at, just by proving themselves a worthy team member.

Making the Most of Volunteering

When it comes to volunteering with the aim towards further job experience, there are two different ways to approach this matter. The first is to interact with the people and familiarize yourself with the job setting of the career you hold the most expertise in. The more experience you receive in your field, the better your chances for landing the job of your dreams.

The second approach is to find a challenge that is outside of your normal range of skill. By picking up a different perspective within the work field, you may discover a career calling you never thought of. Plus, no matter where you volunteer, the skills and knowledge you acquire can be used in any setting. For example, volunteering at the Salvation Army Thrift Store may enhance your people skills, which can come in handy when you apply for a job as an emergency room nurse.

Where to Find Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering can be accomplished most anywhere that you look. No one or one company is quick to turn down a bit of free assistance. Some of the best places to look include hospitals, libraries, United Way, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, animal shelters, youth centers, and not-for-profit organizations, such as a domestic abuse prevention shelter.

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