Volunteering as a tool for Career Advancement

Many people will tell you that networking is a great way to find new jobs. However, networking often seems like a vague term. In these job search tips, we’ll cover specific ways you can network in your career. The approach discussed involves volunteering with specific organizations that can help you in the business world. Volunteering probably won’t yield instant results. But it’s a good long term strategy for maximizing your options.


The spice network will tell you that it’s not the quantity of people in your network that matters, it’s the quality. This is why top executives and production people look for targeted networking opportunities. They often find them in the form of a volunteer position. As well as giving you the opportunity to give back, volunteering provides an excellent forum for networking. Most networking situations only give people the opportunity to get to know each other superficially. However, when volunteering on long-term projects, people can see each other in action and really feel each other’s personalities and talents.


Many executives and top sales people find nonprofit boards of directors and advisory boards invaluable. These forums are primarily structured as a tool for providing management guidance to non-profit organizations. But apart from giving the people who volunteer for them a sense of doing something valuable, they also provide very high-quality networking opportunities. If you believe you can provide a nonprofit with advice they could use, such as management advice, IT advice, or marketing advice, try contacting some local organizations to see if they can use someone else on their board.


Professional and trade associations can almost always use more help. If you’re willing to volunteer for an association that focuses on your industry or profession, that can be a great way to meet some high-profile people who can open doors for you.


If you don’t think you would be right for a position on the nonprofit board or in a volunteering role for your professional or trade association, there are other ways you can volunteer and still benefit from networking. In fact, there are several nonprofits that you can volunteer with that may be a perfect fit for your background and give a high probability that you will meet someone who can open some doors for you. Here are a few suggestions:

Real Estate and Construction Careers: Habitat for Humanity and other housing organizations

Sports and Entertainment: The Make-A-Wish Foundation

Media, Government Agencies and the Legal Profession: Political Campaigns. In today’s highly litigious political campaign era, lawyers make up the bulk of the political campaign volunteer staff. It also provides a good opportunity for legal assistants and paralegals to spend time with successful lawyers. Media and advertising are also a big part of political campaigns.

Legal Professions: Legal Aid Center – as for non-English speaking people

Human Resources: Job training and career resource center

Media / Communication: Media organizations such as those that focus on bringing awareness to specific issues

The Idealist.org web site provides an extensive directory of non-profit organizations and also lists specific volunteering opportunities.

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