Volunteering Can Help You Find a New Job

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<strong>Boston &mdash; Oct. 30</strong><br />As jobs losses mount, more people may be interested in boosting their careers by volunteering to serve civic, charitable, academic, religious and fraternal organizations, according to ClearRock, an executive coaching and outplacement firm.<br /> <br />&ldquo;While volunteering for nonprofit groups &mdash; and especially serving on their boards of directors &mdash; is a worthy endeavor in itself, there are valuable networking contacts that people looking for new jobs, or to change careers, can make while they serve,&rdquo; said Annie Stevens, managing partner with ClearRock.<br /> <br />In addition to helping increase networking contacts, nonprofit groups generally would be more likely to give people thinking about switching careers useful experience in jobs where they lack the necessary skills or credentials to be hired for paid positions, according to ClearRock.<br /> <br />&ldquo;Nonprofit groups usually will be more receptive to giving people an opportunity to transfer their talents to related fields than a potential employer would be to pay for on-the-job training,&rdquo; said Greg Gostanian, managing partner with ClearRock. &ldquo;People should at least have some similar background or experience, however, and not, for example, volunteer to keep the books without any skills in accounting or finance.&rdquo;<br /> <br />&ldquo;Someone with a background in journalism who is interested in switching to public relations or marketing would find more of an opportunity with a nonprofit group to get experience in this. Accomplishments people achieve while working with nonprofit groups can then be used to show potential for-profit employers,&rdquo; said Stevens. <br /> <br />ClearRock offers the following advice to people thinking about volunteering for nonprofit organizations as a way to make networking contacts and/or gain experience in a new field:<br /> <br /><ul><li><strong>Not all nonprofit groups have the same status or cache.</strong> &ldquo;Potential networking contacts you can make at one type of nonprofit organization may be more valuable than those you can build while serving for another type of nonprofit group. Service on the board of directors of a prestigious university or hospital would introduce people to a higher-level of networking contacts than would serving on the board of a little-known charity,&rdquo; said Stevens.</li><li><strong>You will be expected to perform service that has value to the organization, and will not just be there for the networking contacts you can make.</strong> &ldquo;There are usually fundraising expectations when one sits on a board of directors for a nonprofit. So if this isn&rsquo;t something you like to do, volunteer for a lower level in the organization,&rdquo; said Gostanian. &ldquo;Also, if the nonprofit you volunteer for can&rsquo;t make the best use of your skills, you both probably would be better off if you served with another organization.&rdquo;</li><li><strong>Don&rsquo;t expect the nonprofit organization you volunteer for to offer you a full-time paid job. </strong>&ldquo;Although this sometimes happens, many nonprofit groups are going through the same economic difficulties as are for-profit businesses in today&rsquo;s tough economy. They&rsquo;re looking to stretch their tight budgets through unpaid volunteers, rather than serving as employment agencies,&rdquo; said Stevens.</li><li><strong>Don&rsquo;t quit your service to the nonprofit as soon as you have found your ideal job.</strong> &ldquo;Choose an organization you feel comfortable supporting, believe in and have a real interest in continuing to serve even after your career progresses. Besides the good work you can continue to do, you can add to your network. Also, nonprofit service rounds one out as a person, in addition to just looking good on a resume,&rdquo; said Gostanian.</li></ul>

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