Occasionally, someone will ask me how to deal with the “down time” of job hunting — that indefinite period of waiting for a certain response or result. Well, volunteering is one way to stay busy and make any spare time away from interviewing, researching, or networking still contribute to job search goals.
If you talk to people who volunteer for causes or organizations, it’s a very good bet most will tell you that volunteering led to informal networking with any number of people and provided a chance to exercise or upgrade work skills.
But the value of volunteering is up to you. If you go to work as a volunteer thinking primarily about the chance of eventually being paid for the work, volunteering may actually turn into a wasted opportunity. Why? Your true motive will eventually find you out.
Volunteering with an open heart to help others can actually allow you to forget about your own needs — if only for a short while — while lifting your spirits during a time when self-esteem may not be too high. Getting active for something worthwhile without pay is likely to boost your self-image and refresh your confidence about completing tasks and reaching goals. It’s not all that different from how you feel when finishing a “to-do” list. A non-paying “job” well-done will matter to you — and at least a few people will notice you brought some commitment to everything you handled.
I’ve noticed that successful volunteer work is something many people want to hear about. The reason? Volunteering for a cause you really respect is exactly the kind of thing a lot of us would like to do if we could make time to do it. But you might ask, “What if no potential employment contacts result from volunteering?” Well, no harm no foul. What’s the worst that can happen?
It’s a matter of you keeping in mind that you helped others and got some new skills — or refreshed the skills you already had. It’ll matter to you and others will remember that it did.
Bobi Cook is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. Bobi has an MBA and over ten cumulative years experience as quality assurance developer within the automotive industry, a small business administrator, and professional educator. She currently utilizes these skills to help job seekers develop and implement successful job search campaigns conducting seminars throughout the 13 county region.