Thursday, May 24, 2012

Volunteering Cures

Job hunting.  It’s a term that leaves many people gulping, shivering, and convulsing.  These days, job hunting is merely like hunting down a killer whale with a Mattel-made bebe gun. 

For many job-seekers, it involves spending a good portion of your day sifting through job postings, tweaking your resume and cover letters, researching the company, filling out the never-ending job applications.  These applications generally force you to repeat what you wrote on your resume, and go back to your old contacts book for references and address of your previous working places.  The saying always goes, finding a job is like being at a job. 

With every generic response of “Thank you for your application to ___________Company.  We will be reviewing your resume, and if your resume matches, we will get in contact with you shortly,” you spend hours, days, weeks, and then months not hearing any responses, or getting another generic rejection email.

Unfortunately, as the employment drought becomes harder to ignore, many HR and employers begin to take notice, and it can ultimately lead your resume to be filed away into the unknown cyber world of HR sites.  Despite the economic downtown the last several years, how do you avoid resume droughts/gaps?  Other than working at a Starbucks or a retail position, how do you ultimately convince employers that your current experiences are still relevant to them? 

One outlet that others are turning to is volunteering.  The quick downside to volunteering is that all of them are unpaid, and require some time commitments and travel.  However, the rewards of volunteering can be substantial especially to job seekers looking into the non-profit sector. 

As internships are extremely competitive and require you to be in school, volunteering comes with no such prerequisites.  It offers you a chance to showcase your skills and abilities.  It gives you the chance to network with the organization, its sponsors or with other organizations that they’re connected to.  Volunteering keeps you productive in a time where you are spending countless hours job-hunting, and more importantly, it is an experience worth having on a resume, and it shows to your prospective employers that you are staying productive while sacrificing your time for an important cause(s).

The benefits of volunteering bring you closer to the community that you’re working in.  Unlike the corporate world, there is a greater sense of accomplishment when you are part of an organization that helps those in need.  You meet volunteers from various backgrounds.  They, too, can become part of your network.   Though many organizations don’t have enough funding to pay its volunteers, they do make a great effort at rewarding them.  Other organizations have been known to throw dinner or lunch parties, or give gifts to volunteers, but most importantly, they can also provide an important reference contact as you are job-hunting. 

Organizations ranging from youth outreach, community organizing, promoting awareness for Breast Cancer, AIDS, cancer, and other health issues, and civil service projects are just one of the many areas in the non-profit sector that people can get involved in. 

Places to look for volunteering and networking opportunities can simply visit places such as,,, or join non-profit groups through LinkedIn. 

As things are uncomfortably tight and competitive in today’s market, the opportunity to volunteer provides the convenience and comfort of building your personal and professional skills as you are going through the days of a never-ending job search. 

In the end, prospective employers want to know what you are doing during your job search, and how productive you are during your challenging moments.  For volunteering, it could mean a few hours out of your time making opportunities happen rather than being confined to your computer.  

Copyright © Randy Kim
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