NEWS + ADVICE
Volunteering as Part of Your Job Search Strategy
Several experts, including our own Patra Frame, share that volunteering is important in a job search. That’s particularly true if you’re unemployed. Volunteering is networking. It’s good for you, good for the organization and often helpful to your job search.
Like any endeavor, finding the right organization to volunteer or participate in takes time and practice. You can volunteer at an organization that meets a particular interest such as a local animal shelter. Or you may choose an organization that is related to your profession.
Both of these types of volunteering will introduce you to new people, which is valuable to your job search. It’s an opportunity to hone your skills and to give back to the community.
Most organizations need volunteers to do everything from event registration to chairing large committees. The challenge is finding the right fit between your interests and what the organization has to offer. It’s a lot like dating or finding the right job.
AFCEA provides programs nationally and internationally that may be of interest, including the recently launched AFCEA International EPIC – Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee.
At the same time, AFCEA has local chapters across the country and in different regions. In our local area there are several AFCEA chapters including Northern Virginia which is the largest chapter, to AFCEA Quantico which holds events and programs on Quantico. Each of the AFCEA chapters also has a group of Young AFCEANs with their own programs and events as well as social networking.
It’s been my pleasure to volunteer with AFCEA NOVA as well as AFCEA Central Maryland. Both organizations have given me an opportunity to give back, meet great people, and learn more about my professional community than I would have been able to do on my own.
“People who help others often get more out of it than the people they’re helping.” -Proverb
Volunteering Enhances a Key Skill
Working with others in different environments helps you empathize and polish similar soft skills.
Why is this important? Employers are seeking individuals who can listen to others, collaborate, and most importantly empathize. George Anders, Forbes contributing writer and recruitDC keynote presenter, has written several articles about this key skill, including The Soft Skill that Pays $100,000+.
“We’re living in a world where better software and better algorithms are automating an ever-larger part of white-collar routines, even at the highest levels. But we still need people to step into the situations where — to put it bluntly — my team’s algorithms don’t mesh with your team’s algorithms. In such situations the human touch is essential.” – George Anders
Volunteering is interacting with other individuals. That’s networking!