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One of the best ways to avoid those resume gaps is by volunteering.
There are countless ways lending a hand to a cause you support can help you in your job search.
First, volunteering can help you maintain your skills and develop new ones. If you’re a public relations professional offer to do PR for a local nonprofit. If technology is your thing, it’s likely many organizations can use your social media or web development savvy as well. You’ll have a chance to make connections and may even be offered a job.
Serving on the board of your favorite organization, whether their mission is to serve the elderly or save the planet, can develop leadership abilities you may not have used on the job. Skills that will likely be valuable to a potential employer.
There are options for those in creative careers too. Many photographers have honed their skills and saved lives by taking pictures of shelter animals.
Depending on your profession, finding a volunteer opportunity that will work for you may require a little strategic thinking.
But, there’s a lot of help out there.
There are several national organizations that can help you match your interests to local volunteer opportunities including:
Don’t discount the benefit of being in the right place at the right time. Being an active participant in your industry’s local chapter is an easy way to connect with local industry leaders. And possibly learn about jobs before they’re advertised.
Volunteerism can help when potential employers are checking you out online as well. Candidates who are tweeting about their volunteer activities are more desirable than those who are constantly complaining online. Whether that means badmouthing their current boss or regularly whining about bad restaurant service.
However, volunteering is not all about how it can help your job search. Particularly if you’ve been out of work for a while.
The biggest bonus is the boost of self-worth.
Last weekend, I spent Saturday morning cleaning a local park with members of my university alumni association. We chatted as we picked up assorted debris. The time flew by. I thoroughly enjoyed myself even thought I almost fell into the pond three times reaching for discarded Styrofoam cups.
No, I wasn’t excited about starting the day so early, but I was really glad to have been part of helping my community. Every time I drive by that park I’ll know I contributed to making it better.
If you’re worried about losing your skills and having gaps in your resume find a place to volunteer. You may develop some new abilities and even network into a new job.
One thing there’s no doubt about is that that by contributing you’ll end of feeling better about yourself. That boost of confidence will be invaluable when you’re interviewing for your next position. It may mean the difference between they’re considering other candidates and you’re hired!