Job Search Tip and Idea: Volunteering and making your path public

June 7th, 2012

This is a post about getting value out of trying to volunteer, without really volunteering.

I was talking with my wife about a friend who is in transition.  She reminded me about the idea of volunteering, which I have written about, but it’s been a while.

I love the idea of volunteering, but it didn’t really work for me. I called a cople of organizations and when I tried to talk to them about volunteering, they gave me a deer-in-the-headlights response.  Like they never heard of someone wanting to volunteer to help. I’m not sure what part of my approach was wrong, but this was definitely low hanging fruit… and I moved on.

I love the idea of volunteering… for various reasons:

  • You get out of the house.  This has all kinds of great implications (you’ve bathed, you have dressed in something other than pajamas, you have done your hair, etc.).
  • You get to be around human beings, in a work environment.  This means you are around professionals… which is a necessity in the job search.
  • You get to meet new people.  Networking is the bomb, right?  This is a key point: make sure the places you volunteer make sense as far as meeting new people that can help you move your job search forward.
  • … more, I’m sure.

But this isn’t a post saying you need to volunteer.  This is a post on how to get value out of trying to volunteer, whether you volunteer or not.

Here’s the scenario I came up with:

Imagine you go to a meeting with professionals in your (industry/profession/geography).

If you can somehow introduce yourself (some meetings have this as a standard practice. Otherwise, ask the host if you can introduce yourself and offer your volunteer time/services.), do something like this (keep it SHORT):

“My name is Jason Alba.  While I’m in transition I’ve decided to look for some volunteer opportunities. I have experience in collecting payroll temp information (yes, get that specific, if it’s the right audience) and ______.  I’d like to volunteer at an organization that __________.  If you know of any companies that could use my expertise, please let me know after the meeting.  Again, I’m in transition, and looking for a role in ________ doing ________.”

Edit that as you like.

So here’s what just happened – in front of dozens or hundreds of your peers and colleagues, you gave them your value proposition and pitch.  You did it in a non-threatening, non-hurting way.  You have a captive audience, and they all got 30 to 60 seconds of interesting information about you.

What do you think?

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3 responses to “Job Search Tip and Idea: Volunteering and making your path public”

  1. The example makes it easy for the job seeker to fill in the blanks as would be appropriate for him/her. I look forward to sharing with my clients. Thanks-

  2. Brad Merrill says:

    I had the opportunity to Volunteer as a judge for the State FBLA competition last year. It was fun, I met a few people but I don’t know how valuable it was. I also had an opportunity this year to do the same, but didn’t take advantage for a variety of reasons. I actually wanted to – the timing was bad was one of the problems.

  3. I think it is a great idea! But only if a person is truly seeking volunteer opportunities. People do not like to be duped or deceived. I could see this approach being misused in the same manner that people seek out informational interviews with the real intention to convert them into job interviews. Once you introduce yourself to a group of people this manner, you will be approached based on that information. If these people then realize or get the sense that you want something else, you have potentially tarnished your reputation and closed doors to meaningful opportunities.

    For all those that REALLY HOPE TO VOLUNTEER (like myself), I think this a perfect way to introduce yourself if you have just joined a professional association and this is you first meeting. Also perfect for CAREER CHANGER (like myself), you send a message to everyone that you have x skills, you a willing to learn, and ready to work hard (sought after skills in career changers). Which makes for an amazing first impression. And as I have learned over the last couple of weeks, people love volunteers and they are more than happy to extend those opportunities.

    Additionally, for anyone a little shy to starting conversations and networking. You have just created a powerful conversation starter. Some people will even approach you, as opposed to you having to approach everyone. And you might be a little more comfortable in initiating conversations with people you meet, because it seems like its only nerve racking for the first 30 seconds. But you already spoke those nervous 30 second to the whole group, the worst is over.

    I am interested in transitioning into a new field and I will be attending meetings in associations I have recently joined. My number one goal is volunteering so that I can learn the field and develop skills needed to succeed in my new career. I am very excited to use this approach, as I intended to introduce myself at the start of the meetings, including my desire to volunteer is a nice touch. And a wonderful first impression.

    Great Suggestion!



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