Volunteering used for career advancement

November 26, 2008 7:44:14 AM PST
These tough economic times mean many more people are looking for jobs. But where are you looking? As you head out to the food bank to do some volunteering this holiday season, you might also want to think of it as a job interview.

Volunteering can give you more than just a warm fuzzy feeling about helping others - you just might be preparing food next to your future boss.

"The quality of the people I have run into at Taproot far exceeds my expectation in terms of their education and their experience," said Judith Weiss, volunteer.

Judith Weiss has been volunteering at the Taproot Foundation - partly so she can look for a new job in the non-profit world. It's a smart move, say executives at Volunteer Match - who have seen first hand what types of people donate their time to charity, they place people in volunteer positions.

"Occasionally you will volunteer with people in high positions - like CEO and other managers, they're getting to see your work ethic, they're getting to see that you care," said Alex Holderness, CFO - Volunteer Match.

Even if you aren't lucky enough to slice meat next to the Google founders - you still could find yourself making an important connection - a different one than you might find in say, a running group or sewing class.

"Those kinds of bonds, as you're spending time next to someone doing work, just like in the workplace, can often be very strong and often can result in friendships or opportunities to follow on and maybe get an interview," said Holderness.

You can also look at it as a chance to beef up your resume. Always needed graphic design experience but never got the chance on the job? Offer up that service to a non-profit.

"When you're volunteering for an organization in need - they will take whatever you can give them. It allows the volunteer also to choose to do work that they don't otherwise do and help them gain experience," said Weiss.

Weiss is gaining exposure; she just recently attended a reception for the Taproots board of directors and all its major donors - a party she's hoping will turn into a new position.


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