One of the best things we can do for ourselves, and our careers, is to share our time and talents to do some good in the world. Volunteering enhances our professional resiliency and increases our personal life satisfaction. Here are five reasons to make “giving back” a priority in the coming year.
Expand your network
Serving on boards, volunteering for a nonprofit and supporting fundraising events connects us to new people who share similar interests. In time, these acquaintances can turn into professional alliances. When we volunteer, we have a chance to put our talents to use and show our skills in action. This leads to high-trust relationships with people who can then speak to our qualifications or refer us to new opportunities with real conviction.
Build the resume
Volunteering helps us look good on paper. We can minimize gaps in our work history by showing that we have remained active and involved during transitions or layoffs. We brand ourselves when we include volunteer experience on our resumes. We also differentiate ourselves from other candidates who have similar skill sets but lack community involvement.
Think about what you have to offer and what you hope to gain in terms of skill development when you consider a volunteer opportunity. Sometimes we volunteer because we want to be considered for full-time, paid positions within the organization. In other cases, we plan to take the skills we gain from volunteering and put them to use in our regular jobs. Yes, we give back for the sake of giving back, but we can also be strategic in terms of what we want to develop in ourselves.
If you are considering a career change, volunteering is the perfect way to test the waters before jumping in with both feet. You get first-hand experience and valuable insights into what it takes to be successful in a new industry. This can help you avoid a costly career mistake. If you do find a match in your new field, you will have developed great experience and connections to help you make a successful transition.
Volunteering often leads to feeling a sense of purpose and belonging in the world. If we are a bit stale in our careers, volunteering can reignite a sense of passion. It feels good to give back, yet we all need support from time to time. When we are in a career transition, it can be psychologically easier to reach out for help if we have made it a priority to be of service. In giving to others, we can create good karma for ourselves.
Keep in mind that finding the right volunteer opportunity can be challenging. Start by considering what issues call to you. What are you curious about? Do you want to work locally? Or, do you yearn to support national or international issues? What talents do you have to share and what new skills do you hope to gain? How much time can you devote given your other commitments?
Use this online resource: www.livecareer.com/quintessential/volunteering to learn about possible areas of interest. Your local library also offers resources to help you research nonprofits, foundations and giving organizations such as Rotary International.
The new year is a perfect time to envision a brighter future for yourself and for the world. It is a time to set goals and seek out rewarding experiences. One thing I know for sure is that as you serve the world, you will also be doing yourself a whole bunch of good. Happy New Year!
Carrie Pinsky is a freelance writer, job-search coach and training specialist. Reach her at Pink Sky Counseling and Career Services, 970-225-0772 or www.pink-sky.net.