Even with the best career plan, resume, cover letter and interview skills up your sleeve, sometimes it can still take a while to nab an interview. There are other factors that can affect your chances of getting a interview call, such as an oversupply of workers in the industry. However, often it may be a lack of relevant skills, experience or education on your part. If you are considered “long term unemployed” (that is out of work for longer than a year), your lack of recent skills or experience may be your biggest hurdle in getting invited for an interview. That is where volunteering can help.
Volunteering allows you to gain current work experience, improve your skills, learn new skills and build confidence. Your chances of finding volunteer work as opposed to paid work are much higher as organisations are more willing to take on volunteers. Being a volunteer in an organisation allows you to demonstrate your reliability, diligence and overall reputation as a worker. This is something that trumps what is written on your resume. Volunteering also helps you get back into the routine of working and gives you a feel for what you like about certain work. However most importantly, volunteering is a fantastic way to build networks with people who may actually be able to offer you paid work in the future, or know someone in the industry who may need to employ someone. This is real time networking.
What sort of work can volunteers do?
Think about the type of work you would like to do, the type of skills you would like to improve and the type of organisation you would like to work for and target these in your volunteer job search. Don’t forget your own strengths and the skills you could bring to an organisation. The type of industry you could find volunteer work in could be in local government, social welfare, disaster relief, community groups, activism and social development, education, health and aged care, youth welfare, sport and outdoor recreation and animal welfare to name a few. The type of work could include work such as coordinating social media, customer service, administration, fundraising, event coordination, mentoring, reading to children, coaching, marketing research, web development, writing, driving, library assistant, gallery assistant, support and advocacy work, management, companionship, tutoring, disability support, migrant support, chairing and project coordination.
How do you find volunteer work?
Once you have decided what kind of industry and work you would like to volunteer in, the fun begins. The best place to look for a volunteer position is through your personal networks and in your community. Tell your friends, family and neighbours that you are looking for volunteer work. Charity organisations, community health organisations, adult education centres, nursing homes, schools and sporting organisations can all be great sources of volunteer work. I actually know of a mum that began volunteering in the office of a local primary school and after 5 months she was offered work as an office assistant. Sometimes organisations don’t think they need to hire new people until they realise how much value a volunteer worker can provide. You could also approach organisations you are interested in by calling them and asking if they require any voluntary assistance with any particular work, or even dropping by with your resume. Finally you could also search local volunteer organisation websites and local councils websites for specific volunteer jobs that are being advertised. There is so much volunteer work around, you just have to know where to look. Stay positive and remember volunteering can be a great step towards future employment. Here are some websites that may be helpful in linking you with volunteer work: