Overwhelmed with job hunting? Getting discouraged by the lack of call backs from the dozens of résumés you’ve sent?
Instead of getting dispirited, get to work. Stop cyber-spamming employers and start volunteering. There are thousands of organizations where you can showcase your value.
The following is a step by step guide to identifying and securing a meaningful volunteer position that can move you closer to paid employment opportunities.
1. Carefully select an organization based on your interests and capabilities. These may include:
• Non-government organizations;
• Chambers of commerce;
• Convention and visitors’ bureaus;
• Municipal offices;
• Economic development centers;
2. Once you have targeted an organization, review volunteer policies. Consider areas where the organization needs help, and create your own position based on your professional knowledge and abilities.
As a professional communicator, you can show off your value in several ways:
• Revamp and manage social media efforts;
• Design and/or write newsletters;
• Handle fundraising efforts;
• Support event planning and marketing;
• Create a media relations plan;
• Train and mentor other volunteers, clients, or members;
• Identify and support new marketing or public relations initiatives.
3. Set specific goals for your volunteer efforts. They might include:
• Grow your professional network (most organizations have highly influential board members and corporate partners);
• Fill résumé gaps with meaningful work;
• Develop or improve new skills;
• Secure current references;
• Earn a paid position at the organization;
• Improve your interpersonal skills and maintain your confidence;
• Benefit society.
As you volunteer, continue with the job hunt, save portfolio-friendly work, and maintain a positive and confident outlook. By showcasing your value and contributing to an organization’s success, you will gain experience, make valuable contacts, and maybe even parlay your volunteer position into a paid fulltime spot.
Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Visit her blog www.lorrabrown.com or follow her on Twitter @LorraBrownPR.