How to Volunteer to Gain Experience and Begin Your Career

When I work with job seekers struggling to break into a new career field the compliant that I hear the most is that no one will hire them due to lack of experience.  When I hear this claim, my response is ; what have you been doing to gain that experience and get the hiring manager’s attention?  All too often, the answer is, applying online. 
Unfortunately, sitting in your slippers and spending hours in front of your computer isn’t going to land you a job.   You need experience to get a job, but employers won’t hire you without it – talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  But, all hope is not lost! Volunteering to gain experience will help you begin your career.


Why Volunteer

For anyone looking for to break into a new career volunteering will not only give you great applicable experience, but it also provides you with an opportunity to network with industry professionals.  It is said that 80% of people landing jobs today found the opportunities through networking.  This means that getting out into your community and connecting with professionals is time better spent than simply applying to job after job on the internet.
Time Commitments
Right now you may be thinking to yourself, what if I don’t have time?  Well, make time!  Whether it is two hours a week or two hours a month, something is better than nothing.  Some organizations do require time commitments, such as a certain number of hours they need filled each month.  If you simply can’t make such a commitment, there are alternatives.  Try “microvolunteering” which is volunteering that you can do in small bits of time - from 5 minutes to 2 hours that is high-impact, high-efficiency do-gooding through sites such as Sparked.com, which is a site that matches the needs of charities with appropriately skilled volunteers.


The Value of Volunteering


Volunteering is not just “good for the soul”; it can lead to a better job.  According to a survey from LinkedIn, 41% of nearly 2,000 professionals said that when evaluating candidates’ resumes, they consider volunteer experience to be equally as valuable as paid work experience.  In today’s competitive labor market, volunteering can often be the distinction between you and the other qualified applicants.  If you want to advance your career, build your professional experience, and expand your network; volunteer!

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Grant works for Collegis education and writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. He aims to inspire, motivate and inform current and prospective students.

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