So, you’ve been out of work for some time; you have (you think) exhausted your network; you have applied for every job you can find; you regularly attend one or two job clubs; and nothing is working? I know it is an incredibly frustrating feeling. Maybe a solution is to try giving rather than taking…
An excellent way to spend some of your now available time is to give some of it away. I suggest you consider four categories of volunteer work:
Based on your profession – find ways, possibly through the local chapter of your professional association, to use your skill set to benefit a not-for-profit. Find a local social service agency where you can relate to their mission and ask if they would be interested in some free professional assistance (I can almost guarantee they will be). If you are an HR person volunteer to conduct an HR audit. If you are an IT person volunteer to install computers. If you are a marketing person volunteer to help them with social networking. You get the idea – give to them what you really want someone to pay you to do.
Based on your community – find a need in your community and see if they need some additional workers. Regardless of your professional training you can most likely pick up trash, serve at the reception desk at your local hospital, read to children at a Head Start, or help direct traffic for a local 5k run.
Based on your passions – find a need that with an agency that does what you love. If you love animals volunteer at an animal shelter. If you want to be outdoors work at a nature sanctuary. If you love art become a museum docent.
Based on your faith – find a need at your house of worship that fits you. You can teach Sunday school, lead a mission trip, coordinate a community garden, or paint the nursery.
The bottom line is that there are better places where you can spend your time other than on the couch watching soap operas or surfing the net hoping to stumble on a new job posting. Volunteering does wonderful things for you. Volunteering can help you keep your skills sharp, learn or practice a new skill, meet new networking contacts or maybe uncover new job opportunities. Just as importantly, volunteering can meet the needs of others and help your community be a better place. Volunteering keeps you keep busy and stay physically and mentally active. Finally, volunteering helps you feel good about yourself and provides energy to help you sustain your job search.
If you can’t find anyone to hire you yet, get up and find a way to give away what you have. Others will benefit, you’ll feel better and it just may help you find that next opportunity.