March 10, 2009

Tuesday Tips: Volunteer Your Way Into a New Job

We talk a lot here on the JobMonkey blog about the importance of networking.

And really, I don’t think the impact of effective networking can be underestimated: Career experts tell us that 60-80% of all new jobs are landed through networking connections.

But what if you are already talking to everyone you know (and everyone they know), regularly updating your profile on LinkedIn, attending networking parties, and participating in industry events … and yet you still haven’t found a job? How about this non-conventional networking idea: Volunteering?

The personal and professional benefits of volunteering are vast. On a professional level, volunteering keeps your skills fresh, earns you valuable resume experience, and allows you to meet people who can help you in your job search. From paid professionals to boards of director and lay leadership, non-profit organizations are fertile grounds for well-connected movers and shakers.

How can I make a volunteer gig work to my advantage?
Let’s say you have always loved working with animals. But you majored in accounting and worry that volunteering at the Humane Society wouldn’t be the best career move. Think again: You could volunteer your time and education to help the finance committee, preparing tax documents or annual reports.

You could even put your stellar number skills at work planning a fundraising event. In the process, you would be working with and learning from other accounting and finance professionals — and meeting business leaders and philanthropists throughout your community.

I really don’t think I have time to volunteer. Looking for a job is my full-time job right now.
It’s true that looking for a job requires your full-time attention. But I’m not recommending 40 hours a week of volunteering. Four to eight hours a week is more than enough time to achieve your career networking goals — while also making a meaningful contribution to people and causes in need.

Have you had a volunteer job that turned into a full-time job? Have you met people through volunteering that helped you find employment? Share your experiences!

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