Volunteering: Advice for Job Seekers
If you find yourself unemployed after having worked full
time for years, volunteering may provide an excellent way to make use of your
sudden bounty of free time. Volunteer work may also take the edge off of a
pervasive sense of aimlessness or anxiety. There’s nothing better than finding
a constructive outlet for excess time and restless energy. Besides, time is
money, and if you aren’t using yours, you may as well donate it to a worthy
Right. But volunteering, while generally an excellent idea
for everyone, warrants a few special considerations for the unemployed. If
you’re out of work and trying to recover your stride, remember three things as
you go forward in search of volunteer opportunities that can make use of your
strong back, clever mind and empty hands.
Choose the right organization. The one you feel
most passionate about is the one to which you should devote yourself, but don’t
strike an organization off your list right away if it can offer any contacts or
skills that may help you find work.
Watch out for mission creep. Before you begin
volunteering, make a clear decision about how you will distribute your time,
and then stick with it. If you plan to volunteer on Saturdays and use weekdays
for the job hunt, keep that plan. If you’re asked to extend your volunteer
hours into the week, politely say no.
that your time is valuable. When we become unemployed, our time often begins to
feel like a very cheap commodity. Each hour that your employer once bought for
a high price might now seem worthless unless dedicated to the service of
others. This attitude is noble. But try to maintain your perspective, and don’t
confuse volunteer work with penance or self-punishment. If you find yourself
spending too many hours at the volunteer center sitting still or dusting
shelves that are already clean, it may be time to go home and spend those hours
with your family and friends.