WHY VOLUNTEERING IN BETWEEN JOBS A GREAT IDEA?

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Shannon Yarbrough, an interactive media specialist from Atlanta, USA has experienced a number of

layoffs in a period of four years. With each layoff she went into a donward spiral,

feeling emotions ranging from elation to anxiety. Afer her last one, she decided to

take some time off and pursue something she’d been craving for a long time:

Volunteerism. She recently returned from volunteering in Phnom Penh,

Cambodia at the Harpswell Foundation, a leadership center for Cambodian

women in college.

Wether you’ve been let go or resigned, the phase of unemployment is tough.

Uncertainity of the future, anxiety of paying bills on time and the need to

maintain a lifestyle can drive you into a pit of desapir as you frantically search

for a new job. Even though you have hit a wall in your professional life, we are

here to tell you that it is not the end of your world. WIth all the time in your

hands, you can do whatever you enjoy the most. The world is your oyster! Like

Shannon, we believe volunteering in between jobs is a fantastic idea and can

work wonders for personal and professional development. Not convincing

enough? Given below is our list of reasons for the same.

1) GOOD FOR THE MIND,BODY AND SPIRIT.

A prolonged job search leads to stress, anger, anxiety and depression, however

volunteering combats all four. It works on the social contract aspect of helping

and working with others which has a profound effect on the overall

psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful

connection to another person. Working with pets and other animals has also

been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Reduction in stress and anxiety releases a mixture of “happy hormones”. Human

beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.

Acoording to Nancy Collamer, career coach , speaker and an author, “

Volunteering is an important psychological benefit for people dealing with a

prolonged job search. Keeping a positive mindset is arguably the single most

critical element of success for finding work.”

2) NETWORKING

Instead of the ever-shrinking circle of contacts during unemployment,

volunteering creates the exact opposite effect. One of the most commonly cited

benefit is the new networking opportunities. “Volunteer work will often give you

the opportunity to make new contacts and develop new relationships in your

local community, the organization that you are volunteering for and with other

people that have chosen to volunteer,” says Zach Brown, recruiting strategy

consultant at David Brown International. “Your network will grow in ways that

you may not expect and that can be fruitful in the long term.”

3) UPGRADE AND DISCOVER NEW SKILLS

According to Monique Honaman, founding partner of ISHR Group, a human resources

leadership, development and coaching firm. “Many volunteer opportunities allow

you to build a certain level of expertise in a functional area that perhaps you

aren’t exposed to at work,”. At the same time volunteering can help build upon

skills that are already possessed because of a previous job and use them to

benefit the community. For instance, if you hold a successful sales position, you

can raise awareness for your favorite cause as a volunteer advocate, while

further developing and improving your public speaking, communication, and

marketing skills. Needless to say, whether its looking for a job in the same field

or transitioning to a new field, volunteering helps upgrade and discover new

skills that greatly benefit the employer and the employee.

4) BOOST RESUME

One of the most common anxieties amongst job seekers is having to explain gaps

in their resumes to potential employers. Volunteer work is a perfect way to gain

work experience and in the process fill in those gaps. Supporting this statement,

Paul Kostek, an independent contractor and career advisor said, “Volunteering

helps you to fill in the space on your resume when you’re looking for work. You

can fill in the gaps with the volunteer work, listing roles and responsibilities.”

5) GET HIRED

Believe it or not volunteering does get you hired! The Corporation for National

and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, tracked

more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those

who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.

One reason, according to the authors of the study “Volunteering as a Pathway

to Employment”  acquiring skills or knowledge as a volunteer and then putting them

to use may “demonstrate higher levels of capacity, potentially making the

volunteer more attractive to and productive for employers.”

The report’s link between volunteering and getting a job was supported by a new

study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think

tank. The study — “Does it pay to volunteer?” — Found that unemployed people who

volunteered between 20 and 99 hours during the year were roughly 7% more

likely to have found employment one year later compared to those who didn’t

volunteer. One must remember ,while these results are important for all job

seekers, they’re especially welcome news for the nation’s 4.4 million long-term

unemployed. (those out of work for at least six months)

Being in between jobs can be taxing both mentally and physically. In such a

situation taking a breath, relaxing and stepping back is a humane thing to do.

What you do with this time is of utmost importance and we urge you to explore

volunteering as an option, given it’s benefits. If you are or ever find yourself in

such a situation and your head is brimming with confusion, we hope this blog

will help you make an informed decision .

 

 

This Blog is written by Anjani Grover , an intern with ComMutiny The Youth Collective. Anjani is a Political Science graduate from Delhi University and aspires to make a career in the development sector. she loves volunteering and therefore is passionate about writing on it.

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