The job market is overwhelmingly competitive. You need all the edge you can get to land the job you’ve been dreaming of. And sometimes it will take sweat and blood before you finally hear that sweet-sounding phrase “you’re hired”.
You must prepare yourself thoroughly for your job application. You cannot just wing it. You need all the help you can get, from anywhere it’s given. And this is where volunteerism comes in. Volunteering might mean you need to temporarily postpone kickstarting your career, and you will be unpaid, but it will have its invaluable benefits.
Curious about how volunteering will give you a leg up in the job market? Well, consider the following:
You hone your job hunting skills
Unless you’re well-connected, which is probably not the case since if you are then you won’t have trouble finding a job, chances are you’ll need to apply to volunteering opportunities. Consider that your training in actual job hunting.
You will experience how to look for calls for volunteers. You will learn how to narrow down your options. You’ll start honing your resume-writing skills as well as your interview skills. When it’s time for you to apply to a real and paying job, you’re more than ready to tackle the challenges.
You acquire relevant experience
Job interviewers will ask you about any work experience relevant to the job you’re applying for. Once this line of query begins, you better have something self-flattering to say. Otherwise, the interviewer might lose interest and look forward to the next job seeker in the queue.
If you have volunteering experience in the same industry you’re applying for, you’ll have something to share that’s worth hearing. So before you apply for a job in, let’s say, the legal field, consider volunteering as a paralegal for a law office first. It does not matter what your boss’s specialization is. Whether they’re a human rights lawyer or a medical malpractice lawyer, what’s important is they have enough cases to keep you busy.
You get to test the waters
Volunteering is suited to those who are still a little confused as to how what career they want to pursue. Or to those who recently left their job and unsure where to take their career next. You can volunteer in many different industries just so you can get a feel of how they work.
For instance, you can volunteer for a non-government organization if you’re interested in social work. After that, volunteer for a PR practitioner if public relations is something that also interests you. Expose yourself to as many professions as you can and then decide which suits you the best.
You get to network
Who you know will take you places. As problematic as that is, nepotism is real so you might as well use it to your advantage. But you cannot maximize the promise of nepotism if those you know don’t hold any kind of power.
Once you start volunteering, you’ll meet different people from all walks of life. Those include CEOs and other movers and shakers in their respective professions. One or two of these people might agree to become your employment reference. If you’re luckier than that, one of these people might give you leads on your dream job or offer it to you on a silver platter like you were born with a silver spoon.
Volunteering will look good on your resume
If you’re not the type to rely on nepotism, at least you can rest assured that volunteering will look good on your resume. Listing all of your volunteering experience will signal HR managers that you mean business. You’re the go-getter type. And those are attractive qualities to employers.
Expect to get more calls for interviews. So practice your communication skills. You do not want your nerves and nerve-induced stuttering to ruin your chances.
When you apply for a job, you’re fighting tooth and nail with many other job seekers. And each of you has something special to offer. It’s up to you how you will highlight what sets you apart from your competition. For instance, if you have a long track record of volunteering, make sure your potential employers notice it on your resume. Make sure you emphasize it during the interview.
But do not overdo it. You do not want to come across as if you’re bragging about your social contributions. You do not want to give your employer the impression that you only volunteered for the sake of your career. The best-case scenario is your heart’s in it, too, for real.