Volunteering – is it a good idea? What’s its real value?

Hello everyone! 2014 has started rather quickly and things have been going well in the job market in Canada. With a low unemployment rate to kick off the new year – wheels have been turning and people have been active in their career management strategies and job searches. CoachRod has also been busy with a full load of clients since January, also delivering webinars for clients in Canada & overseas. More than previous years I have had clients asking about the real value of being volunteers as they set foot in their new job markets – so I thought it would be a great opportunity to release the first blog post of this year. Let’s roll.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Volunteer means:

Volunteer (n) – someone who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.

volunteer opps

This very much sums it – but I also want to give my 2 cents, especially as a newcomer to Canada myself, a career coach for hundreds of new immigrants, and a volunteer as well.

Usually when I am asked the question – ‘Should I volunteer?’ – the person is considering it for the wrong reasons and runs the risk – as I have seen over and over again – of being put in a situation where one may be taken advantage of. Please – do not think here for a second that I am advocating against volunteering as I think a country only becomes a better place for its citizens when people give back. However  I do want to emphasize that it must be done for the right reasons. Being a volunteer with the idea of solely gaining a network and having the opportunity (as many newcomers believe) to add a line to your resume that shows engagement with the local community may backfire altogether. Unfortunately I have seen in many instances professionals with lots of experience and solid skill sets end up doing work for free and with very few values’ alignment with the organization they are volunteering for – as a matter of fact, these professionals end up doing tons of work, unpaid, actually diminishing the value of their work and creating an even bigger challenge to overcome – the challenge of having to answer the question of –  if you are a capable professional – why are you working for free?

My advice to those who wish to volunteer is to either do it after you have landed a role and have already started your new career – so you will be doing what the rate of 1-2 hours a month, which is ideal – or if you want to approach it during your job search, be strategic and do it for the right reasons. here are a few items for consideration:

  1. will my volunteer work be taking valuable time and energy off my job search (which is a full-time job)
  2. Are my values aligned with this organization? What is it about them and the people involved that excites me?
  3. what is its brand recognition?
  4. What’s in it for me?

These are questions that should help you with the decision of why and who should I volunteer with? and most importantly, as a competent and capable professional make it easier for you to see the real ROI of your time and commitment.

In addition to my views expressed in today’s CoachRod’s blog-post, I want to share with you all a fantastic study about the impact and power volunteers have in making Canada an even better society. The study was made by Mireille Vezina & Susan Crompton and it is published on Stats Canada – Volunteering in Canada.

Well – that’s it for today! Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share your comments and views on this topic.

Cheers

CoachRod

Interested in learning more about CoachRod’s career coaching services – please visit CoachRod online or contact me @ ask@coachrod.ca.

About CoachRod's Blog

Empowering people makes me go. Seeing people improve, and achieve their career goals is my mission - don't underestimate your skills, nor overestimate them. Be prepared and make every interaction count. Learn about CoachRod - and take control of your career. www.coachrod.ca

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