There are really three top reasons why job-seekers should volunteer, and they align nicely with Charlotte Works’s tag line: Engaged | Empowered | Employed.
A government study by The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who did not volunteer.
By volunteering, you remain engaged: volunteering expands your network through access to different people you might not have otherwise met. Interacting with others could lead you to possible contacts who are knowledgeable about future job opportunities. If you’re unemployed and feeling isolated, studies have shown volunteering offers many health benefits (here, here and here) including decreasing depression. Maintaining a positive mindset is imperative to staying motivated, and volunteering can help you remain engaged in your job search.
Helping others can leave anyone feel empowered, and volunteering is the perfect vehicle to do just that. As a job-seeker, especially if you’ve been without work for the long-term, you may need to feel a sense of belonging and know that you’re truly needed. Through volunteering, you can change your title from “unemployed” to “helper.” Know that you are needed to make a difference by helping to push forward an important cause and purpose for others.
Showing that you’re being productive while in transition can make you employed. It’s evident to future hiring managers that you’ve been keeping your current skills sharpened and may have even developed new ones. It’s also a reflection on your motivation and commitment to some strong core characteristics that employers seek such as initiative, critical problem-solving, flexibility and working well with others. Additionally, you may even volunteer your way into a job! Treating the volunteer opportunity as if it’s a paid job can get you noticed as a potential employee, or the organization might make favorable referrals on your behalf.
The importance of volunteering to the job-search can’t be overstated. Listen to these wise words from President Barack Obama: The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.
Ready to volunteer now? Join Volunteers@Works and get started today!
Stacey Henderson, talent engagement strategist, recruits, develops and retains volunteers to support programming at all three NCWorks Career Centers. With more than 10 years of nonprofit and programming experience, Henderson has worked with several local organizations in a variety of roles including as project manager with the Arts and Science Council, assistant director of Crossroads Charlotte with Foundation For The Carolinas and programs district manager with Junior Achievement. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Johnson C. Smith University, a master’s degree in public administration from UNC Charlotte and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.