If you have owned (or watched) a television in the last thirty years then you should be familiar with the song that Fred Rogers wrote, performed, and made famous.
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve aways wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we’re together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?
On the surface it might seem that Fred Rogers knows absolutley nothing about what it takes to find a new job, but the song above presents a pretty interesting idea. When you think about being a ‘neighborly’ neighbor what comes to mind? I think of helping each other out and being there in a time of need – in other words volunteering to be of assistance.
When it comes to sourcing opportunities there are six real advantages to those who follow Fred Rogers approach and give their time to help others:
1) Keep your skills current. As a recruiter one question that I always ask without fail when I am speaking to someone who is out of work is, “What are you doing to keep your skills current and relevant?”
Volunteering your time is a great way to do just that. Not only are you helping others but you are keeping up the skills that you have worked so long and hard to build.
2) Pick up new skills. In a volunteer role you are rarely doing the same thing over and over and have the opportunity to do things you would not normally be able too.
3) Keep busy. Too much idle time can lead to depression, desperation, and a sense of helplessness, none of which are good for your job-search. Volunteering even an hour or two per week can give you a sense of doing and purpose that so many miss when they are out of work.
4) Network. Looking for work is very much a people business and the more people you can expose yourself to others the better.
5) Show off your abilities. Many executives and higher ups have it written in their contracts that they have to volunteer X number of hours per year so there is a very good chance you could be working side-by-side with a decision maker.
6) Do good for others (saved the best for last). No matter how bad your situation there is always someone that is in a worse place that you. Helping others is not only good for you and your job-search, it is also good for your community.
Now that we have gone over some of our reasons for volunteering, we wanted to give some ‘real world’ testimonies of the impact you can have as a volunteer and it can have on you.
Ed Condon (www.linkedin.com/in/edcondon) is a Career Consultant and has been an active volunteer for a number of years.
The importance of volunteering was reinforced at recent Chamber of Commerce lunch. After discussing my career transition and networking activities with one of the other volunteers, he asked “How would you like to come work for me?” A couple of interviews later I was offered a position.
This got me thinking of the many benefits job seekers can receive when giving their time to help organizations. Here are a few –
1. It’s a great way to meet new people. You instantly have something in common making it easier to start a conversation
2. It is a good buffer to explain gaps in employment. It shows commitment, productivity and willingness to help give back to the community
3. If you’re thinking of working for a non-profit, experience as a volunteer goes a long way proving your commitment.
4. Volunteering can be a great way to develop new skill sets, leadership and experience working within team environments.
An important qualifier – don’t ask people to help you get a job, it’s about developing relationships first. I will frequently ask, “It’s been great getting to know you, would you mind if I sent you an invitation to my LinkedIn network?” Then I work on friend building.
Hal Hassall (http://www.linkedin.com/in/halhassall) is a marketing executive and active community volunteer.
Volunteering while in career transition provides numerous benefits to both you and your community –
First, you can invest your time and energy in helping others. This is a positive step in so many aspects of your life. Your volunteerism provides a tangible work product that keeps your mind and spirit sharp in addition to getting good things done. This opens you up to experience joy at a time when your life might be full of sorrow, concern, and unhappiness.
Second, volunteering allows you to meet others in a peer to peer environment where networking can blossom, new ideas and points of view can grow, and number and quality of your contacts can expand.
You never know who you’ll meet and who they know until you jump in to work on a mutual cause. You’ll likely find that your co-volunteers are some of the most connected, capable, and caring folks you’ll ever meet. The timing couldn’t be better.
Lastly, volunteering lets you regain a sense of balance. In transition you’ll need help. Maybe for the first time in many years. This can feel uncomfortable since you may feel a sense of powerlessness and need.
By volunteering, you can even the score in a healthy way. By giving yourself to aid others at this time in your can more easily take help from those around you.
Rick Pritikin (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/6/434/b9a) is a Nashville, TN based executive who is very active in his community.
Volunteering: It’ll cure what ails you.
I have found over the years assisting others is the greatest medicine known to mankind. When I was unemployed I volunteered assisting people who were in career transition (unemployed). That is correct. By helping others helped take my mind off of a poor me mentality and gave me reason to feel good about myself. It gave me hope! It helped me stay in the marketplace, stay sharp, keep up to date on interviewing techniques, résumé creation, networking and other pertinent skills. Eventually it led to a job! I began a not-for-profit ministry assisting folks with career transition skills and job placement.
The benefits of volunteering upon my self-esteem are on-going. There is no better way to feel alive, feel like you are doing something worthwhile, and feel compassion. There are so many organizations in need of volunteers. In fact there are many companies in need of volunteers.
On several occasions I have suggested to folks who were in career transition to go to small companies within their field of expertise and offer their services for free. Yes, for free. Offer to work a few hours a week or a morning a week, or whatever. It will keep your skills sharp and you will be noticed by the owner(s) or manager(s).
This has on three different occasions I am aware of resulted in a permanent position and on many others several quality networking appointments. Whether you are in transition or in a great career volunteering is a terrific cure for anything that ails you.
When I started actively volunteering several years ago I had no idea what to expect. Taking a little time to help others led me to the job that I am at currently, allowed me to meet some of the people that I consider true friends, and allowed me to experience things I would have never been able to do otherwise.
Whether you are working or looking for work volunteering has many advantages both for you and your community.
Stepping outside of your comforte zone to help others should be a part of who you are and what you do whether you are looking for work or not. Volunteering has been a big part of my life and has opened many doors (including the job I have been at for four years) and allowed me to make a small difference in the lives of a few people along the way.
Until next time, good hunting and good luck!