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Volunteering Can Bolster Your Resumé

While You Contribute to Your Community

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Volunteering Can Bolster Your Resumé

Volunteers working at the Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix

Are you unemployed? Many resumés have a large gap between the last date employed and today's date. It is not unusual for a job seeker to have been out of work for eight months or more. One way to keep your resumé fresh is with volunteer work.

Networking groups abound, but what are you actually getting from them? Who are the other participants that you are meeting? Chances are that you are meeting others who are looking for work, just as you are. It's the nature of the game that their first concern is going to be finding new work for themselves. That's not the best use of your time when you are looking for a new job for yourself.

Volunteering is not just an activity to keep yourself busy while you're out of work. It can further your career by allowing you to learn new skills. Where to begin? Volunteer for something related to what your career is or will be: Director of Marketing for a non-profit? Public relations person? Charitable organizations often need help getting their group into the news. Would your skills would make you a great salesperson, fund raiser, or membership drive coordinator?

When selecting an organization for which you'd like to volunteer, choose one that does work close to your heart. Are you concerned with the issue of uninsured families? Worried about the fate of animals in local animal shelters? Volunteer to work with those agencies that address those issues. Remember, even though you are volunteering, you are making a commitment to the organization. The most mutual benefit will be achieved when you volunteer for a group whose mission is important to you, and for which you deliver an honest effort to assist.

Many non-profit paid jobs require previous experience in the non-profit sector, but volunteers usually need no previous experience. If you are not sure which volunteer group needs help, here are some places to begin your search:

  • Volunteer Opportunities
    Your About Guide to Phoenix has an entire section of not-for-profit organizations in the Valley of the Sun that could use your help.
  • HandsOn Greater Phoenix
    Engages more than 14,000 people annually, hosts between 40-50 volunteer projects each month and contributes more than 50,000 hours of service to the community every year.
  • Volunteer Match
    Enter your zip code and a listing of volunteer opportunities in your area with descriptions is provided.
The Boards of Directors of non-profits often come from the private sector - who knows if the CEO of your most desired company might be on the Board of the non-profit organization for which you chose to volunteer? How much more likely is it that they will notice someone who has the same passion for that cause as they do?

If you are ready to do something worthwhile for your community as well as your resumé while you are seeking permanent paying employment, do your research:

  • Choose a cause.
  • Check the Board of Directors.
  • Find out what the needs of the organization are.
  • Volunteer!
Then get out and be visible with the organization; go to their events, participate in their activities, and network.

Networking groups of unemployed people often focus on the negatives of being out of work. Volunteering not only gives you a more positive outlook, it keeps your work skills fresh. List your volunteer accomplishments on your resumé under work experience - it will be like giving your resumé a shot of "volunteer steroids."

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Terri Robinson is President of Robinson & Associates, a recruiting company that helps companies hire Rainmakers for their Sales force. Terri has been published in Arizona Women's News, Arizona Reporter Online News; interviewed by Recruiting Trends' Newsletter for their Extreme Recruiting column, and by Smart Money Magazine. Visit her online at http://www.recruit2hire.com.

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