Searching for employment is hard enough without having to explain job gaps on your resume. But explain you must, especially if you want to come off looking like a valuable commodity. It’s no secret that unexplained spells between jobs stick out like a sore thumb and are one of the first things that potential employers zero in on when considering you for a position.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to turn that negative into a positive. Strategic volunteering is one of them.
What is "Strategic Volunteering?"
Strategic volunteering means actively seeking out opportunities to donate your time to a cause that will not only “read well” on your resume, but that can actually give you valuable career experience - and simultaneously make you look all the more appealing in the eyes of a prospective new boss.
Sure, volunteering to work at a community shelter lets employers know that you’ve got a good heart. And helping others in need can enrich your life and make the world around you a better place.
But getting strategic about volunteerism can work wonders that extend far beyond simply filling employment gaps.
If you’re on the hunt for a freelance Web Designer job and want something that’ll make your resume pop, consider acting as a community volunteer to help small businesses build their websites. Likewise if you’re a Graphic Designer, agreeing to offer your skills free of charge to local businesses can be of immense value.
Don't Say No to Pro-Bono
This kind of pro-bono work may not actually pay the bills, but it accomplishes these three critical things that can help drive your career forward:
It Fills the GapIt will fill legitimate employment gaps on your resume and show that, even during the times when you weren’t working, you remained busy. This can go a long way to demonstrating to employers that you’re motivated and passionate about what you do.
It Puts Your Name Top of MindIt will help get your name out there. Gaining local exposure can be just as profitable as building a national profile. Each time you take on a volunteer gig, the recipients of your services will spread the word about you and eventually drive paying business your way.
It Keeps Your Skills CurrentYou’ll gain new work skills. Every project you complete is experience under your belt, regardless of whether you get paid in money or appreciation. Branching out into areas where you’ve had no prior experience can also help beef up the skills section of your resume.
Where to Find Volunteer Opportunities
Not sure where to go to discover strategic volunteer opportunities?
Start first by talking to friends, family members and former co-workers. Let them know you’re interested in putting your talents to use by helping others who could use your expertise. Take to social media to help spread the word. Create a professional page separate from your personal page. Doing this will also make you visible among employers who may be actively searching for someone just like you.
Check back frequently for more self-employment advice and tips on how to take your career to the next level. To explore exciting job opportunities, contact us today or check out our available jobs.