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How To Volunteer In The Job Search

April 17th, 2009

Last week a buddy asked me how he should volunteer during his job search.  I’m a huge fan of volunteering, especially because volunteering allows you to substantiate yourself (this is one of my favorite posts of all time).  He heard me talk about this post, and volunteering, and asked where he should volunteer.

Of course, I’d love for him volunteer at MY company, but that isn’t the right answer for him.  He’s an awesome graphics artist (I paid him to create the DVD sleeve, cover, and the menu background for LinkedIn for Job Seekers) and he needs to find local jobs.

During our discussion we brainstormed some places where he could volunteer and get really good exposure.  Unlike someone out of work for months, with a need to “stay current,” he needs to be able to showcase his skills and let his “audience” know how good he is, and that he is available.

We came up with two places that he could prospect for volunteer opportunities:

Chambers of Commerce. I’m guessing that most Chambers have graphics needs, and small budgets.  If he could volunteer to do some graphics work for Chambers, I think he’d get some terrific exposure in the community.  Why?  Chamber of Commerce people are POWER CONNECTORS.  Their job is to network.  And brag.  And talk people up.  If my buddy redoes their logo, for example, they should talk him up to Chamber members.  Chamber members are local business who might have their own graphics needs… and they might make decisions based on the recommendation of a Chamber leader.  I strongly suggested one local chamber but then suggested he contact all of the local chambers.

High Schools. He has a knack for creating very cool stuff stuff, which might become posters or logos of the high school mascots and teams.  How many schools could use a makeover in that arena?  This is a pretty visible thing – if there’s a way a school can somehow let people know that he created it (like in a sports program, or something like that), perhaps he’ll get his work in front of the right people (parents of high school kids?).  Otherwise, he can put it in his portfolio… being the designer of something so visible and recognized is pretty dang cool.

I’m sure there are other places he could volunteer, but with that alone he has at least 20 phone calls to make.  This brainstorming session helped me think through two major reasons to volunteer:

  • Stay current or learn new skills, and/or
  • Get exposure in front of potential audience.

Good stuff?  Here’s a post from Walt Feigenson called Volunteering can help your job search.

What am I missing?

5 Comments »

5 responses to “How To Volunteer In The Job Search”

  1. cwcomment says:

    This is good advice. Volunteering your time is a little step that really lets you help use the power of small. Every contact you make while lending your time could be a potential employer. And when the economy gets better there’s always a chance a paid position will open up. If not, you’ve now got a great way to talk about how you’ve been spending your time when you go to your next interview!

  2. SRider says:

    Great idea!

    Consider checking with the local United Way, Community Development Agency or Arts Council office for opportunities in non-profit organizations. They are always on the lookout for volunteers anyway, but in today’s environment most are squeezed for funding and facing bigger than normal challenges. This idea is a win/win for you and the organization. The benefits clearly include the idea of substantiation. In addition to that I’ve found even more (1) you can connect in a way with your community that perhaps you were not able to do before due to work commitments (2) you meet a more diverse range of people and contacts and (3) you sharpen your communication and collaborative skill sets by entering a new environment where the stakes are not so high as with a new job. In my case I also learned a lot about a subject that interested me and awakened the enthusiastic spirit inside me.

    Try it!

  3. Jason Alba says:

    Thanks for the comments – very helpful input :)

  4. I’m a big fan of idealist.org or volunteermatch.org. I think the both have ways to narrow the search so your friend can find organizations that specifically need designers.

  5. […] Volunteering is just plain good. I tried two places, got reject both times, and gave up. I should have been more […]