How ‘working for nothing’ can lead to something

Volunteering – it’s one of those things that people seem to live for, or avoid like the plague.

Those who love it often talk about the ‘feel good’ factor behind volunteering. Those who aren’t so into it might consider it as having to do something for nothing – not so appealing if you’ve already got a jam-packed life.

But have you ever considered that when you turn down the opportunity to volunteer, you’re turning down more than, ‘working for nothing’?

You’re also saying no to the opportunity to gain experience in areas that future employers are going to sit up and notice next time they read your resume, or ask you what you’ve been up to.

You’re saying no to the chance to interact with others who might know of other jobs and opportunities that might suit your future plans, or employment goals.

You’re saying no to the possibility you’ll find a new area of interest that might lead to a future job or career you never thought possible.

Before you dismiss the next request to help out a local group that’s looking for a hand, consider the following:

Before you dismiss the next request to help out a local group that’s looking for a hand as having to ‘do something for nothing’, consider what you could get:

New skills

Maybe there’s a chance to work on developing some skills that you haven’t been able to use or foster in other jobs or roles you’ve had. These could include:

  • Sales skills – learn from other volunteers about how they help to encourage others to join them
  • Organisational skills – every employer loves someone who’s a little – or a lot – organised!
  • Communication skills – as we’ve said before, being a good communicator is very valuable – the more you communicate, the better you’ll be at it

More experience

Don’t consider a volunteer role as ‘something for nothing’. Think of it more as a chance to get good at a particular job, with much less pressure!

Then, when it comes time to tell a prospective employer about what you have learned in the role, rather than telling them you’ve ‘volunteered with such-and-such-organisation’, describe it in terms of what sort of job it would translate to if you WERE getting paid. For example, if you’ve helped to organise the promotion for a public event, make sure you describe yourself as the event’s ‘Promotions Officer’, or similar.

And don’t forget to have some examples of your efforts; as we’ve said before, employers love it when you not only tell them what you’re capable of, but can show them.

More contacts

The more you volunteer, the greater network you’re going to build.

Yes, the word, ‘network’ tends to give us the icks, too! But it’s really a shorter way to say, ‘getting to know other people, and them getting to know you’.

The more people you know – and who know you, the more chances you’re going to hear about other opportunities further afield – and people will be willing to endorse you for these opportunities, too.

More credibility

Being able to SHOW an employer that you’re willing to try is like job-seeking GOLD. We’re not sure there’s anything an employer will consider more valuable.

That warm-fuzzy feeling

Seasoned volunteers who talk about the ‘feel good factor’ aren’t kidding. Try as you might, doing something to help out others will improve your mood. That’s how we’re built.

If you’d like more information about how volunteering could help you improve your future job prospects, speak to one of our Employment Consultants about any opportunities they might know about.

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  • WDEA Works Employment division incorporates both Disability Employment Services and jobactive.
  • Disability Employment Services
  • jobactive