The following is an approximate transcript.
HEATHER: Hello and thank you for joining Episode 30 of Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. My name is Heather Huhman, and I am the founder & president of Come Recommended, as well as the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Cachinko. I’m joined by my co-host, Tony Morrison.
TONY: Thank you and good morning Heather. Wow! 30 Episodes! Where has all the time gone?
HEATHER: I know!
TONY: It seems to go by so fast! As Heather said, my name is Tony Morrison and I am the vice president of Cachinko. We operate a job matching and career networking application on Facebook. This application is a social recruiting platform that helps job seekers find jobs matched to their specific skills — like Pandora does for music search, we do the same thing for a job search — and we also provide a suite of online recruiting tools for recruiters and employers to find their perfect candidates.
HEATHER: Today’s episode is “Volunteering Your Way Into A Job.” Great topic, so let’s get started. What are the benefits of volunteering?
TONY: The obvious benefits of volunteering are the positive impact on the segment of the community that the activity was intended to help. It could be building or renovating a senior center or recreation center, collecting donations from families distribute to a family in need because of a fire, or some other disaster…anything really.
Any sort of volunteer activity has a way of making the whole community feel good in some way, especially for the volunteers. It boosts your self-confidence to put your skills to work or learn a new skill and put your hands to good use, and the physical activity with others makes you feel so much better than if you were sitting in your house in front of the TV wasting 8 hours of a beautiful Saturday.
When you dedicate your valuable time as a volunteer, you make new friends and broaden your network. It connects you to others in your community who may have shared interests with you. It builds camaraderie and helps you to practice your social skills with an audience outside of your professional colleagues with whom you spend a third of your life. You build stronger ties with the community and individuals, and you never know who you might meet. You could share a joke with a business leader who will offer you your next job, or you could be invited to become part of another important business networking group that you had never heard of before. Like every activity or event that puts you together with other people, it’s an opportunity to gain some exposure for your skills and personal brand, as well as broaden your horizons and learn something new from others in the process.
HEATHER: And, what volunteering opportunities should a job seeker look for?
TONY: I believe any volunteer opportunity will have positive effects. Not only on the community but on yourself. However, there are so many causes for which one can volunteer in most communities from youth sports and recreation to various community improvements, homeless shelters, food distribution for shut-ins and the homeless, coordinating donations for shelters such as needed linens and toiletries for homeless, museums, etc.
I think the key to finding the right volunteer position is not much different than if you were looking for a new job or a new hobby. Choose a cause that gives you a chance to do something you love to do and that you will enjoy doing. If you enjoy it and it benefits the organization then it is a great fit.
Think about what you want to get out of the volunteer activity and decide if it’s right for you, and if you pick carefully, it could become a resume booster too. Do you want a role that gets you working directly with people or teams, or do you want a role that has you working alone? How much time can you commit to a volunteer effort? How much responsibility are you ready to take on? What skills do you have and how do they translate to a benefit for causes that are important to you?
HEATHER: Now, of course, you started alluding to this but how exactly can a volunteering position lead to a job?
TONY: Use the opportunity to meet people, talk, and share a laugh or two. Ask questions. Learn about the people with whom you are volunteering. Have they lived in the community long? How long have they been volunteering for this cause? What about other causes? How did they learn to do that particular skill so well? Where did they go to school? What do they do? Where do they work? How long? Be yourself and be friendly and sincerely be interested in others and they will take an interest in you. Practice your interviewing skills and socialization skills and ask questions of the people you meet.
You will have skills that you can demonstrate and teach others that benefits the organization, and others will teach you a thing or two. Enjoy yourself teaching others the things that you do so well and people will take notice. Show that you are good in a team and that you can pick up a new skill quickly and that will also get you noticed very fast.
HEATHER: What should a volunteer avoid at all costs?
TONY: You absolutely should never promise anything if you have any doubt about being able to deliver it.
The purpose of volunteering is to give back a little to the community or individuals in need of assistance, right? It is difficult to say, “No,” when someone asks for your help. However, if you spread yourself too thin and cannot devote your time, assets, skills, or money then you are not doing the cause any good. Since the organization depends entirely on volunteers for support, you could be doing the cause terrible harm and be the reason a volunteer effort does not meet its goals. That is not good for you or the organization.
You must know when to say, “No.” Saying, “No,” is okay. Not keeping your word is never okay. Even if you are getting pressure from the organization to commit your time, know what you can deliver and by when, and do not fail to deliver it. Don’t worry about what others might think either. That will pass the next time you are able to volunteer, and they will forgive you for it. But, damaging your credibility by not showing up or not delivering on your promise will stay with you and becomes a mark on your personal brand.
HEATHER: Going back to the job search specifically, how do volunteer positions translate onto a resume or an online profile?
TONY: Volunteer positions may include marketable and cross-industry, transferrable, hard and soft skills. You can apply or learn various technical skills, perform skilled labor tasks that demonstrate creativity, apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to complete a project, take on leadership roles working with a team, and show your interpersonal and public communication capabilities. Volunteering is also a demonstration of your personal values, compassion, and social responsibility. Many employers appreciate volunteer achievements such as that.
Consider how the volunteer experience would translate on your resume when choosing a cause or an organization to volunteer your time. And, when interviewing for a job, try to relate the volunteer effort to the company’s industry or to the job functions that you would be required to perform.
HEATHER: Thanks so much, Tony. That’s all the time we have for today. You’ve been listening to Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. For details about the next episode, please visit blog.cachinko.com.