The Benefits of Volunteering After You’ve Been Laid Off
If you’ve recently lost your job due to a company layoff or furlough, you’re not alone. In fact, millions of people are experiencing unemployment, so it’s important to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Most likely, you’ll want to start your job search as soon as possible so that you can find work again. It may take a while to find a new position, but volunteering while you’re unemployed can help you bridge the gap between jobs. Fortunately, the benefits of volunteering after you’ve been laid off are numerous—and can help jumpstart your job search, too.
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Benefits of Volunteering After a Layoff
Research shows that volunteering is associated with a 27% increase in odds of finding employment, so being a volunteer can be the perfect stepping stone toward your new career. Here’s how volunteering after a layoff can benefit you and your job search.
It Gives You Purpose
Unless you hated your job, or knew it was coming, a layoff out of left field can leave you shaken, scared, and unsure of the future. You might lose confidence in yourself and your abilities, and blame yourself for the layoff even if it was due to no fault of your own. Instead of dwelling on being laid off, volunteering during your job search can help you focus on things outside of your current situation. It can give you a reason to get up out of bed in the morning (because, let’s face it, a layoff can be tough), get dressed, and do something good for someone else.
It’s a Way to Help Your Community
Whether it’s volunteering at your local animal shelter and snuggling with all those puppies or helping to paint a mural in your neighborhood recreation center, doing good is always a wonderful thing. You might have been so busy in your job that you didn’t have time to volunteer, even though it’s always been in your heart to do so. Now is the time to channel all that energy into something positive, and by the laws of attraction, good things will surely flow your way, too.
It Can Help You Reassess Your Career Goals
Before your layoff, you might have been so mired in the day-to-day of your job that you never really got to ask yourself if you really liked what you were doing. In this way, a layoff can be a blessing in disguise. Why? Well, most likely you’ll volunteer doing something that you like to do, be it volunteering at your child’s school or for a nonprofit that you’re passionate about. Tapping into that side of yourself can show you if you really want to continue on in your career—or not.
You might find that the work that you do volunteering is something you’d like to turn into a career. If that’s the case, then you should consider a career change, which can be a very exciting prospect indeed!
It Can Add New Skills to Your Resume
Volunteering is just like a job, except without the pay. But if you view volunteering as a job, then you’ll know that you can learn a lot from your gig. You might learn new skills such as fundraising, marketing, and social media—the list goes on and on. These and other transferable skills you can gain while volunteering are great for fleshing out your resume and can make you even more marketable as a potential job candidate.
It Can Help Close an Employment Gap
If your layoff was unexpected, chances are you didn’t have a second gig lined up to help pad your pockets. And a layoff can leave an empty space on your resume—that is, unless you volunteer. As a volunteer, you can (and should!) list your volunteering experience in the job section, because it counts as a job. Don’t make a separate section for it or think of it just as a volunteer gig. Work is work, whether you get paid for it or not, and your volunteering job counts as just that. As such, your volunteer “job” can help you handle a gap in your resume like a pro.
It’s a Great Way to Network
It’s important to network during your job search, so take advantage of the time you spend volunteering to create new networking connections and establish potential job leads. Let people know that you were laid off from your previous job (you don’t have to go into the details if you don’t want to), and then tell them what type of job you’re looking for. And if you’re volunteering in a new field that you’d like to work in, you’ll most likely be working alongside like-minded individuals who can offer fresh new contacts in your intended industry!
What Do Employers Think?
Most employers view volunteering very favorably when evaluating job applicants. A 2016 Deloitte survey found that 82% of surveyed employers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience on their resume. And 85% of respondents are willing to overlook flaws on a resume if a candidate includes volunteer work.
What’s more, more than 80% of employers agree that skills-based volunteering—using professional skills in volunteer work, like a graphic designer creating brochures for a nonprofit—helps individuals improve communication skills, develop strong character traits, and demonstrate accountability and commitment.
Despite the overwhelming preference for candidates with volunteer experience, employers report that they only see volunteer experience listed on about 30% of resumes! That means you have a real opportunity to get a leg up on the competition by volunteering while you’re looking for work.
Volunteer Your Way to a New Job
Volunteering is a wonderful way to make the most of your time after your layoff. Not only will it give you purpose, but it can help you acquire new education and skills, and who knows, maybe even your next job.
Looking for even more help recovering from your layoff? FlexJobs has partnered with LinkedIn Learning to create our Recovering From a Layoff course to help you come up with a structured recovery and job search plan.
With remote and flexible job listings in more than 50 career fields and a variety of career coaching services to help you along the way, FlexJobs has everything you need to find your next job. Not a member? Take the tour today and learn how FlexJobs can help you on your path to reemployment.
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