Volunteering Your Way Out of Unemployment

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The inspiration to write this article came from my discussion with a colleague who told me how she got her first job into her desired career path by volunteering for a program. A new HR Consulting firm was being launched and she decided to volunteer for the program and also asked the owner to continue volunteering for the company. She said in less than a week, the owner liked her and decided to start paying her (even though it was a token) and over time, the token started growing.

One thing I have realized with some companies is that they would like to first have a feel of the value of a prospective employee before converting to full time. Working as a volunteer means you have to be goal driven and give out your best, so that there would be an opportunity to get a full time job.

Here are some options to consider if you would like to volunteer for a company:

LinkedIn
This is the number one powerful career tool most fresh graduate haven’t tapped into. Maybe because they don’t really understand the value or they have chosen not to open their minds. I personally did research about LinkedIn about 3 years ago before I became very active on the platform and started gaining immeasurable benefits from it.

The first step is to update your profile to include everything. Include your education including courses and leadership experience while in school, also include undergraduate internship experience with task performed.

Your profile title may scare top people from accepting your request if it reads “SEARCHING FOR A JOB” “STUDENT” “OPEN TO OPPORTUNITIES” etc. They think you would start bugging their inbox for jobs. A good headline would preferably be your specialty or areas you hope to a professional on. E.g a Biochemistry Graduate who blogs/vlogs could put something like “BIOCHEMIST | Quality Assurance | Tech Enthusiast”

What you are trying to achieve is for your profile to appear when certain keywords are typed (It doesn’t also scare people away)

Second step is to reach out to the people that can grant you access to your organization of choice e.g HR Professionals or Line Managers in your desired field. How and what you say would determine if you would get a response or not. Show your potential by talking about your interests, skills gained over time and how you plan to use it for the organization. Also don’t forget to mention what you hope to gain by volunteering with them.

Cold Call Visits
This may not work for structured multi-nationals where you need to know someone to gain access to the building (although LinkedIn can help you know someone). However, the aim of volunteering to learn a skill and get the exposure/experience so it’s not a crime to start with small companies that have a lot happening for them. Research about the HR Manager and then visit requesting to see the person. You can come with a letter and a CV.

Networking Events
Some events give you the opportunity to network with professionals and this is a time to sell yourself. If you come enthusiastic about learning and approach them well, you may get an opportunity to discuss further.

As you look out for the next volunteering or Internship Experience, go with an open mind to learn as much an give out as much also.

I sincerely wish you the best in your career!

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