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Reasons to volunteer when you have no job

Updated on September 10, 2015
erinshelby profile image

Erin Shelby is a freelance writer. She blogs at

Why volunteer when you need a job? In a brutal job market, hard work isn't always enough to get a job. Here's why volunteering can be a good use of your time while you're searching for a paying position.

"Will Work For Job" t-shirt designed by Erin Shelby.
"Will Work For Job" t-shirt designed by Erin Shelby. | Source

Because College is Becoming Common

The New York Times reported in the first half of 2013 that in many workplaces, the minimum educational requirement used to be a high school diploma but is now a college degree. Because so many applicants are applying for positions such as a paralegal or receptionist, a person can no longer apply without a college degree, which means that having a college degree isn’t as impressive as it used to be. How then, can anyone stand out? By taking on a volunteer experience.


Why Isn't College Enough?

The statistics for America’s college graduates are grim. In June of 2013, The Huffington Post reported an overall unemployment rate of 7.9 percent for recent college graduates, according to a Georgetown University study. Also reported was the statistic that half of college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a degree. In such circumstances, graduates are barely making ends meet. Here are five reasons to volunteer while awaiting a paid opportunity.

Volunteer For Fresh Skills

As a volunteer, you may be cast in a role that you feel is below you or not valuable. You might be asked to make coffee or take out the trash. However, this is a chance to prove that you can be flexible. You could be entrusted with bigger responsibilities or confidential information and have the chance to learn something that would cost money to learn in a classroom setting, such as a new software application. Volunteering can keep your skills sharp or help you build new skills.

Understanding of a Company’s Culture

You can’t truly know what it’s like to work for a company until you’re hired there. You can interview and ask intelligent questions, but until you’re part of the team, there’s a lot to learn. What better way to really see if it’s worth your time than to volunteer first? This will give you an insider’s view and help you prepare for any interviews there. Almost all interviewers will ask what you know about their organization, and if you’ve volunteered there, you’ll have a distinct advantage over other applicants.

A Distraction from Unemployment

Being unemployed causes stress that can radiate through job interviews. Self-confidence can deteriorate and a prospective employer won’t see the candidate at his or her best. Being engaged in volunteer work provides a distraction from stress by providing a reminder that unemployment or underemployment is a temporary situation and it gives the job seeker an avenue to contribute his or her talents and experience. It can also provide connections to others and a sense of belonging to a workplace or community.


Volunteer Because the Old Saying Goes…

You’ve heard it a thousand times: the person who gets the job often already knows someone working for the organization. For many people, networking isn’t easy, but volunteering is a way of networking that can also show your professionalism.

How to Become a Volunteer: Next Steps

If you’d like to volunteer, identify organizations you’d like to assist or a cause you believe in. Love animals? Check out the Humane Society. Want to help others deal with natural disasters? Investigate the American Red Cross. Have a soft spot for kids? Any school could use volunteers. Also consider how your degree uniquely qualifies you to serve an organization.

Have you ever volunteered before?

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© 2013 erinshelby


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    • erinshelby profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 

      7 years ago

      This was a great and informative read, this is smart way to find a job and get your mind off being unemployed. It can also build your resume.


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