You can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job. Volunteering is a low-risk and calculated way to facilitate a change that repackages the resume with relevant experience and new contacts:
1. Define Your Career Interests
What are your volunteering goals? What field do you want? What are you willing to sacrifice and for how long?
2. Identify 3 to 5 Employers of Interest
Research various organizations by using the phone book, public library, chamber of commerce, networking, and the Internet.
3. Send Resume & Cover Letter
Tailor your resume and cover letter to a specific person. Explain your goals and what you have to offer them.
Even though you are free labor, someone is taking time out to train and supervise you. Contact them to request an interview to discuss your ideas.
5. Establish Guidelines
Clarify the expectations and develop a time frame for volunteering and commitment of hours. Create a job description and ask for regular supervisory meetings for feedback and mentoring.
6. Gain Experience
Request to have specific projects and take initiative. Keep track of your accomplishments and update your resume.
7. Explore Your Options
You may learn this career is right for you or that it’s not what you expected after all. Is just a hobby or a true calling?
8. Obtain Letters of Recommendation
Before leaving, ask for a letter of recommendation while you are fresh in their mind. It is a permanent record of your experience.
9. Network into a Permanent Position
Volunteering helps you break the employment barrier by becoming an insider. Note the other organizations they work with and compete against. Be aware of individuals leaving as areas of possible opportunity.
10. Understand the Benefits
Volunteer experience on a resume shows hard work and determination. By working for free, you can build relevant experience for smoother career transitioning.
I would love to hear your stories of how volunteering has help you in your career development. Let me know what you think.
Copyright 2011, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC – Albany.com – Friday, February 4, 2011