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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 2:50 am | Fair 42º


Karen Dwyer: Build Your Résumé Outside the Traditional 9 to 5

Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable experience and the right connections

Whether you’re looking to begin your career, switch careers, or you’re seeking employment due to a layoff, having a top-notch résumé is important for making a positive impression on a possible employer and landing you the job. To have a standout résumé, you don’t just have to build it in the workplace.

Karen Dwyer
Karen Dwyer

In a time where job uncertainty abounds, a great way to build your résumé is by volunteering your time for a good cause. Service and professional organizations depend on volunteers to get their jobs done, and they need individuals who have specialized skills and education. This is where you come into the picture. Although you may not get paid for the work you complete, you will gain valuable experience that can aid in your job search. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when pursuing this alternative résumé-building route.

Pick the Right Organization

To receive the full benefit of doing volunteer work and build your résumé with projects you are proud of, look for organizations that have meaning to you. For example, you might choose to get involved with Special Olympics if you want to work with special-needs individuals, or if you like to build houses, become involved with Habitat for Humanity.

For something directly related to your daily job functions, you could get involved with a local professional organization within your industry. The bottom line is, when you do something that you love and enjoy, it’s reflected in numerous ways through your work. This will help you stand apart from the crowd.

Pick the Right Position

Although what type of organization you volunteer for is important, it’s equally important to pick the right position. Whether you are just out of college or have been working for 25 years, there is something for everyone. If you’re just beginning your working career, seek an entry-level volunteer position. This will allow you to apply what you learned in school and give you the opportunity to shadow a professional in your field to gain more skills. Think of this as an internship.

If you’ve already been working for a while and are in a middle- or upper-level position with established skills, you may want to serve on professional committees or boards. These are avenues that depend on you for your ideas and abilities in order for the organization’s mission to be fulfilled. This will require you to take on more responsibility and project ownership, very similar to a work environment. Therefore, find something related to your background. For instance, if you have a creative background, seek positions in creative areas such as marketing or advertising, not accounting.

Develop Networking Connections

Volunteering is also a great way to build networking connections. If you’re serving in a volunteer group, focus on building a good working relationship with your manager, supervisor or project officer. If you’re serving in a leadership role, network with leaders in other groups to expand your professional search.

These individuals can serve as a reference for you in the future and recommend your work. Because of this, make it a point to always give 100 percent effort to your volunteer work rather than shrugging it off as something of no value — the value is not always tangible, but it is valuable nonetheless. In addition, know that when it comes to networking, everyone knows someone who knows someone. You’re developing relationships that are not only going to help you get your foot in the door somewhere, but also hold that door open for a little bit.

Building your résumé through volunteer work can be done easily. Just remember to select an organization you want to work with, find a position that relates to your skills, and always give it your best. Volunteering is a great way to show employers that you are well-rounded and give back to your community, but it’s also something that provides you with a satisfaction no one can take away — regardless of what the economy might be like.

— Karen Dwyer is owner of Express Employment Professionals, 9 W. Figueroa St. Click here to contact her or call 805.965.6900.

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