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.”
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.