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Volunteering as a tool for Career Advancement

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Many people will tell you that networking is a good way to find a new job. However, networking often seems like a vague term. In this job searching tip, we will discuss a specific way you can put networking to use to advance in your career. The approach discussed involves volunteering with specific organizations that can help you in the business world. Volunteering probably won't produce instant results. But it is a good long-term strategy to maximize your options.


Seasoned networkers will tell you it's not the quantity of the people in your network that matters, it's the quality. This is why executives and top producing sales people seek out targeted networking opportunities. They often find them in the form of volunteer positions. Aside from giving you an opportunity to give back, volunteering provides an extraordinary forum for networking. Most networking situations only give people a chance to get to know each other superficially. However, when volunteering on a long-term project, people can see each other in action and really get a feel for each others' personalities and talents.


Many executives and top sales people find not-for-profit boards of directors and advisory boards to be especially valuable. These forums are primarily structured as a tool to provide management guidance to non-profit organizations. But in addition to giving the people who volunteer for them a sense of having done something worthwhile, they also provide very high quality networking opportunities. If you believe you could provide advice to a non-profit organization that they could benefit from, such as management advice, IT advice or marketing advice, try contacting some local organizations to find out if they could use another person on their board.


Professional and trade associations can almost always use more help. If you're willing to volunteer for the association focused on your industry or profession, it could be a good way to meet some high-profile people who can open doors for you. If you're not sure which associations are relevant for you, check the ASAE web site:



If you don't think you would be right for a position on a non-profit board or in a role volunteering for your professional or trade association, there are other ways you can volunteer and still get networking benefits. In fact, there are some non-profit organizations you can volunteer with that may be a very good fit for your background and provide a high likelihood that you will meet someone who can open some doors for you. Here are some suggestions:

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

Sports and Entertainment: Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

Legal Professions: Legal Assistance centers - such as those for non-English speaking people

Human Resources: Job training and career resource centers

Media/Communications: Media organizations such as those that focus on bringing awareness to certain issues

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

About the Author

Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook (http://www.JobSearchHandbook.com). As editor of the HireSites.com weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.


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