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How #Volunteering Can Help You Stand Out from the Crowd

1 Jul
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
~ Booker T. Washington
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This is a contribution by How2Become

When you’re desperately looking for that next job, working for free may not seem like the next best thing at all. But, volunteering can seriously help you to stand out from other applicants and can help you to get that next interview.

Show that you are a proactive person

Volunteering for three months looks a lot better on a resume than a long gap between jobs. It shows that you have kept your brain active, that you have been determined to improve the lives of others and that you were not content to sit at home and order a pizza.

It’s not all about money

It shows a great level of dedication and loyalty to stick at a volunteering post for a few months without being paid. Volunteering demonstrates that there is more to your motivation than just money. Employers will like this as they will see you as a person who wants to do their job well for the sake of fulfilling your own personal goals rather than it being all about the money. Somebody who really wants a job for reasons other than financial ones will be much more appealing to employers.

Learn key skills

Many volunteering posts require many of the same skills as a paid professional job. For example, fundraising for a charity requires good sales and negotiation skills in order to get people to donate. Similarly, working with children with learning difficulties or teaching English as a foreign language require excellent communication skills.

Network with influential people

Many larger charities have paid jobs higher up. Whilst volunteering you may get to meet people who have the power to hire and fire employees in these positions. After a few months of volunteering for a larger charitable organisation you may even be offered a permanent paid position. You will be amazed at the variety of different people who volunteer. Even if they themselves are between jobs or out of work, they may have friends and relatives in the industries in which you wish to apply for jobs. It never hurts to get talking to people with contacts.

Gain Work Experience

There are a huge number of volunteering opportunities out there. You are bound to find something relevant to the career you want to pursue. If you want to go into marketing then why not help a charity to design posters for free? If you’re looking at events management then ask if you can help to organise a charity dinner or a fundraising event. You can tailor the type of volunteering you do to perfectly demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to enter your desired field. These kinds of opportunities would not be given to you in a paid job until you climbed quite high up the ladder in a larger corporation, so volunteering can give the perfect platform to prove you have what it takes.

Get further, faster

Since volunteers don’t get paid, there are few people who can afford to stick at it for a considerable length of time. If you manage to stay for a few months, you may see yourself become one of the more senior and experienced volunteers. You may even get your own team to lead; an opportunity which you wouldn’t be given for years in the corporate world. Relish the opportunities and make the most of them. Managerial experience will look amazing on your resume and will show that other people have had faith in you to perform to a very high standard in the past.

Richard McMunn is a writer for  How2Become, a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centres in order to secure their dream job. 

On “Luck” – Create Your Own

21 Sep

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”

~ Brian Tracy

One of the things I taught homeless women trying to break free from abuse and poverty was a simple idea a smart woman taught me many years before.

To make more money than average, you have to do one of two things:  Do what other people won’t do, or do what other people can’t do.

Which leads me to the story about luck.

When I was a newly-minted 21-year-old, I won a trip for President’s Club to Las Vegas with my then-employer.  In all my glorious, worldly prowess, it seemed a great idea when the VP Sales for our region of that Fortune 500 company asked me to play $20 blackjack tables with her.

Yay!”, I thought.  “She wants to hang out!”  *So cool.*

And it was…

For the roughly 20 minutes it took me to lose $360.  That’s a lot.  And it was a LOT A LOT after just graduating!

So after that momentous few minutes, I looked at her and said, “I think I’ll go over there.” LOL.  To which she knowingly replied, “Amy, you’re a good sport.  You’ll never have blind “luck”.  Doesn’t matter.  You have drive.  Make your own luck.”

In Vegas, that was a nary a victory.  In life, truer words were never spoken.  And I am so glad for that…because “luck” is unpredictable.  Being kind, useful, smart, helpful, and open to learning is something anyone can have.  And if you can do or will do what others can’t, you will always create your own luck.

Now go on, do something amazing… and create your own luck.

5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Get a Job

8 Sep

Originally published on Yahoo HotJobs which later became Monster.com.

 

5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Get a Job

by Amy Neumann, for Yahoo! HotJobs

There are a lot of obvious benefits to volunteering for your favorite charity — a sense of accomplishment, giving back to others, gaining perspective, and meeting new people. You can also find business benefits, and ways your efforts can help land you your dream job.

Develop New Skills

Volunteering can be a positive way to get training in areas your current or past jobs didn’t provide. If you need some additional experience for a particular job or promotion, there are many options. For example:

  • Project management — organizing events or fundraising efforts
  • Sales skills — contacting people for donations or recruiting volunteers
  • Managing a team — many projects require a group effort, and a leader to coordinate it

VolunteerMatch.org offers free webinars on “How to be a great volunteer” to get you started.

Meet New Networking Contacts

You never know who you’ll meet doing charity work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 42.8% of all volunteers in 2009 had a bachelor’s degree or higher, while the U.S. Census 2007 put the national average of degree holders at 25.6%. So your chances of meeting professionals in the volunteer pool are good. If you choose a volunteer role related to your target job, you might run into people with similar interests or that have jobs similar to the one you want.

Impress Employers With Your Ambition

Many companies have a strong social responsibility core, and showing your charitable side displays a good cultural fit.

Tony Blake, staffing director at DaVita, a Fortune 500 kidney dialysis provider, notes that candidates who volunteer stand out in a positive way. “As our CEO Kent Thiry says, ‘We’re a community first and a corporation second.’ We value the passion and involvement with community. It adds depth to a candidate’s resume and experience, and it gets noticed.”

Fill in Employment Gaps, Add Experience

Volunteer experience is also professional experience. List the organization and dates, and instead of using the title “volunteer,” use your responsibilities as a title — “project coordinator” or “instructor.” Mention your accomplishments, results, or awards like any other job, without being misleading.

Using your time to gain new skills and help your community — either while looking for employment or while working — highlights your willingness to jump in, learn new things, and do more.

Get That Extra Spring in Your Step

Giving back can be an energizing boost to your self-worth and confidence. Volunteers are the backbone of any nonprofit. By helping others, you’ll get that fulfilling “I made the world a little better” feeling in return.

“Without our 14,000 volunteers putting in 45,000 hours of service each year, we could only serve a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million meals we serve a year,” says Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. “There are opportunities to mentor, tutor, plan events and activities, work in the back office, and multiple other options. Volunteers really do impact peoples’ lives.”

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