Truth be told, finding a job is a job in itself. From creating resumes and completing applications to fine tuning your soft skills and interviewing techniques, it can be downright exhausting. You work so hard to obtain that paying job, so why in the world would a job seeker undertake volunteer work? For us to understand this conundrum, we need to explore the benefits of volunteering, and when is it applicable for the job seeker as an alternative option.
After comparison, the only difference I can conclude is pay. Typically, volunteers complete the job without any monetary compensation. You might ask who in their right mind would do such a thing. This one intriguing distinction caused me to investigate further, which led to me learning about the many benefits of volunteering. Today, I will discuss three of the benefits I see as the most important: learning new skills, networking, and challenging yourself.
Learning new skills and/or reinforcing the skills you already know is probably the best benefit you can gain from volunteer work because both soft skills and hard skills can be learned. Remember, the skills we use to interact with others, such as communicating or networking, are called soft skills, while hard skills are abilities that can be measured like typing or answering telephones. To compete in a global economy, it is imperative that a job seeker obtains these valuable skills to be successful. Also, vital work experience is gained from volunteering.
How many times have you ever heard about a job through someone you know? The best way to get a job in today’s job market is by networking, and volunteering offers many opportunities for that! I believe strongly that networking offers two great advantages for your job search. First, you establish your name amongst the community. Secondly, as I stated previously, the people you meet might inform you of potential careers. This means it is important for you to shine because you never know who is watching!
Through volunteer work, you can challenge yourself to take on different opportunities. In today’s fast growing economy, facing challenges taps into your critical thinking skills, and keeps you aware, engaged, and growing. I believe a person’s willingness to take on challenges in light of possible setbacks speaks loudly about his or her character. Also, when you push yourself you are apt to achieve goals and possibly discover hidden talents.
With all that in mind, I believe volunteering it is applicable for everyone. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, or employed, you should volunteer. The impact it has on the community is substantial. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service website, in Texas alone 2015, 4,652,679 volunteers contributed to 566.19 million hours of service with $12.7 billion of service contributed. When an employer reviews your application and/or resume, your contribution will stand above the rest, and turn your volunteer into a career.
Daniel Mabry is a member of the Workforce Solutions Regional Navigator team in the Houston-Galveston region. After serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 9 years, he connected with Workforce Solutions for career guidance and ended up becoming an employee. This position allows him to utilize his training and personal experience to help people experiencing homelessness.