The Road Less Taken – Volunteerism

You’re out of work, spending a lot of time in front of the computer looking for job leads.  You go to networking and chamber of commerce events, attend job fairs, and try to be where you meet potential employers.  But this has been going on too long and its getting old fast!  And though you’ve gone on a few interviews, you’re burning out from the stress of the search, and it’s starting to take its toll.
Maybe it’s time to back off a bit from thinking about yourself and your job search, and finding something else to do with your time. Have you considered doing something that would benefit others more than it would appear to benefit yourself?  Have you thought about volunteering?
Think about this:

  • A woman who contributes her time at a science museum learns that a new data entry project is starting up and there will be paid positions.  Though she had no formal experience doing data entry, she had already received formal training on how to use the software, and volunteered to help get the data entry team started and to prove that she had the skills.  In doing so, the department manager recognized her ability to accurately do the work and a job offer was made.  She’s been on staff in the finance department of the same museum for over 5 years.

Here’s another example:

  • The mother of an elementary school child – a freelance bookkeeper with a dwindling client list – wanted to see first-hand the kind of education her son was receiving, so she volunteered at her son’s school.  Working in the school’s administrative office, she helped with a wide variety of tasks, including the tracking of expenses.  In the spring toward the end of the school year, she was contacted by a district supervisor about the departure of the district’s bookkeeper, and was invited to apply for the job.  Being already known by the supervisors and principals of the schools made applying and getting hired a quick and painless process.  She’s been with the school system for 3 years.

And one more:

  • After an accident sidelined him from work for a couple of years due to surgeries and physical rehabilitation, a former computer tech with a passion for audio and video gear volunteered at a community center.  While there he regularly set up sound systems and projectors for events and presentations and got to meet with distributors to arrange for equipment loans and technical details.  One day a distributor for a major manufacturer recognized the passion the man had for the gear and its applications and suggested he come to work for the electronics company.  After a meeting with the distributor’s boss, the man was hired as a regional marketing and training supervisor.  He’s been with the electronics company for over 7 years.

These three, and thousands like them, found meaningful work that was a direct result of a volunteering experience.  People were met, skills were revealed and experiences were shared.  I’m not implying these people would not have found success without volunteering, but the fact remains that they found new work situations by giving of themselves and their time for the benefit of others!
At the very least, volunteering can take you away from the tedium of your job search and provide an opportunity to make a contribution to the lives of others, and there is nothing small about that!   But volunteering can also present you with the networking opportunities and introductions to people and experiences that can advance your job search into a paid work situation.
There are countless schools, religious groups, nonprofits, community based organizations like food programs and shelters, disease support organizations, hospices and hospitals, and so many more that can benefit from the skills you already have.  They can also provide the opportunity for you to learn new skills or improve on skills you don’t use frequently.
To find locations where you can put your skills and heart to work to help others, go to favorite search engine and enter the word “volunteering”, to find a list of groups that can match you, your interests and strengths to where they can be put to good use.
On the road to your next gig, take the route marked Volunteerism.  It’s the right road, even if you already have a good job!
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