5 ways strategic volunteering can help with job growth

5 ways strategic volunteering can help with job growth

by Courtney Woodruff

This is it.

You’ve found the perfect job. The one you’ve worked and fought long and hard for. Your talents are being stretched, your passion is blossoming, your co-workers are encouraging and supportive, and even the commute is nothing to complain about.

Then, one day, your spouse walks in with arms full of paperwork and that look on his or her face.

“We’re moving, aren’t we?” You ask, but you don’t have to. You already know the answer.

On the outside, you take a deep breath and put on a brave face like always, but a part of you is crumbling on the inside.

Not again.

One of the more challenging aspects of being a career-minded military spouse is knowing every time orders come through, your profession is uprooted right along with your family. Moving overseas piles on its own share of roadblocks and challenges to the already frustrating situation.

While you are waiting for another ideal job opportunity to come along at your new duty station, consider using your unique gifts and expertise to choose volunteer work wisely, so you are able to serve others while also improving your career outlook.

Strategic volunteering can help you…

Gain valuable experience. Volunteering makes it possible to stretch yourself and grow as a professional by gaining valuable work experience in between jobs. Working to keep your resume healthy and growing in the midst of frequent moves helps you stand out to potential hiring managers.

Hone in on your true passions. Strategic volunteering is also a great way to test the waters to find out whether or not you are as passionate about a particular position or career field as you think you are without taking on the full range of responsibilities. Consider using this time to observe, evaluate, soak up as much knowledge as you can, and listen to your gut. When you are truly passionate about what you are doing, your enthusiasm shines through to prospective employers.

Practice what you already know. Taking on the right volunteer positions helps you exercise your talents and expertise to keep your physical and mental muscles from getting rusty during periods of unemployment. For example, if you work in the medical field, strategic volunteering can help you keep your certifications and training requirements up to date so you don’t have to start all over when you find a paid position.

Develop new skills. Even if your volunteer work isn’t a direct reflection of what you hope to be doing in a paid position, each task is an opportunity to expound upon your talents and acquire additional proficiencies. The new skills you develop helping the American Red Cross coordinate disaster relief efforts, for example, could make you eligible for an event planning position with another company or organization.

Make connections. Volunteering within your industry also helps you network with future colleagues and companies you are interested in working for. Developing strong connections with local professionals in your career field will help put you on the path to success.

Has strategic volunteering helped you find your dream job at a new duty station? What tips do you have for professionals looking to improve their career outlook through volunteer work?

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