No Applications? No Interviews. No Job. Simple.


The best way to get a 100% guarantee that employers will continue to reject and decline to offer you interviews is to stop applying for jobs altogether. Do this and you’ll be done with frustration, stress and the cycle of applying with hope only to taste the acrid bitterness of rejection; then to reapply again with optimism etc. Yes, give it up now and escape from voluntarily setting yourself up for ongoing disappointment.

Of course if you follow that opening advice, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands. Time that initially will seem like a wave of relief washing over you. After all, no more scouring the internet and job boards for minimum wage, entry-level jobs. No more fruitless networking meetings, resumes to tailor to specific jobs, no more need for LinkedIn; the freedom to post online whoever you are, whatever you want without a thought or care about who sees what. No more emails to send, nor the need to be checking your phone for possible invitations that never come. What a relief indeed!

The downside of course is that all this free time doesn’t exactly stop your brain from wandering back to thoughts of employment. Without a job or even looking for one, you’ve got about 7 hours a day, 35 hours a week, 140 hours a month etc. that you wouldn’t have if you were working. How many of those hours are you going to fill productively doing other things? Reading, traveling, exercising, watching television, fixing things around the home; all good in their own way, but for how long are these things going to keep bringing you the happiness they do now?

The most obvious stress for many is where does the money materialize from to allow you to keep living where you do now? There’s the rent or mortgage, food, utilities, repairs, transit, clothing, your morning jolt of caffeine. What about entertainment, unexpected expenses, illnesses, new glasses, dental visits, prescriptions, the virus protection on the laptop that needs renewing? Just a small list… So you start getting frugal if you haven’t already; thinking strategically about what you can do without; what you’re willing to sacrifice. That gets stressful after awhile doesn’t it? I mean, saying you’ll do without item B because you won’t give up item A only to find that in two month’s time your ‘must have’ item A is something you have to part with to keep item C. This is living?

Sometimes all these decisions just seem overwhelming right? Sure they do. This is when some people turn to self-medication which never really seems to have much of a lasting affect. Oh for a while they shift your thinking and provide short-term relief. In the long-run however the medications wear off and you’re back dealing with the original thoughts and you’ve added the lower self-worth and need for self-medication to your list of things to be disappointed with in yourself.

The thing about stressing while in a job search is that you’ve got one thing to hold on to that makes the frustration of a job search worth the effort; there’s the hope of success. Get into the interview stage when you’ve had a rough time even having your applications acknowledged and you’re making progress. Have a good interview or two and you feel the momentum building. Build on the momentum and you find your making the short-list; getting down to the last cuts. Get the job and all that frustration leading up to this moment suddenly becomes worthwhile. You appreciate the job more when you get it, you experience a moment of gratitude and appreciation for what it took to get you there.

All those expressions about putting in the hard work to get what you want, keeping your eyes focused on the destination or anything worth having is worth working for etc. suddenly have real meaning. You earned this one.

Gone are the days when many people got the first job they applied to or jobs just dropped into their laps without really even looking. Gone are the times when your good looks, natural charm, sexy clothing or mom could get you the job just for the asking. Well for most of us; there are still some regressive employers who still hire sexy, but think about it; do you really want to work for a person who hired you based on that? What are you setting yourself up for in the future? Get hired based on merit, job-specific and transferable skills, experience and you’re better off.

Don’t give up, give in, lose hope, listen to pessimism and grind your job search to a halt. Stick with your quest for employment and apply for jobs. Do your best to keep that positive outlook but allow yourself to be human and acknowledge the disappointment and frustration that a prolonged job search can bring. You can simultaneously be disappointed with progress but optimistic that you’ll eventually succeed.

Athletes have trainers, coaches and rely heavily on those who have previously achieved success to mentor them. Why not follow the same formula when you’re after something you ultimately want too? Seeking support while job searching, having a professional coach instruct you in how to be most effective and then having the discipline and intelligence to actually follow the advice you’re given with a commitment to your own improvement is exactly what successful people do.

Of course there’s always the alternative…

 

Fed Up Being Unemployed


Okay let’s start with the premise that you’re fed up. I mean you’ve grown so frustrated with trying to get a meaningful job that pays well that it’s left you confused on how to succeed and bitter. It seems no matter what you tried in the past, no matter who you applied to for a job, in the end the result was the same; you’re not wanted.

Seems to me that hearing the message, “Just keep trying” rings kind of hollow. How many times can you be expected to keep at it hoping for a better result? So you give up. Then after having packed it in you start feeling that it’s worth it to try again. Why? Usually it’s because the life you’ve got at the moment isn’t the one you want for yourself; you deserve better and you’re motivated to try again until you ultimately succeed or you give up once more.

Maybe you’d be open to hearing a few words of encouragement? If so, I’d like to offer you some. I suppose the first thing I’d like to say is that it is a good sign that you aren’t content to keep living the way your are now. That feeling that you want more is the seed of Hope that’s buried deep in your core. ‘Hope’ my dear reader, is at the core of so many people’s thoughts who push off from some known shore for the great journey’s they embark on. Hope is what causes them to leave the safe and known for the uncertainty and yet-to-be discovered.

Now keeping with that image of some adventurer embarking on a journey; the early stages of a journey involve traveling through the norm. The sailor who sets to some unknown land far away first has to get beyond the waters that are well chartered. The hiker deviating from some known path had to first hike what they knew to get to the point where they chose something previously passed up on.

It’s the same with you and your job search. You rely on what you know when it comes to looking for a job until you come across some better way of going about it. This makes absolute sense. However, just like the hiker and the explorer decided at some point to do something they’d never before done, it also stands to reason that you should do something you’ve never done if you expect the results to be more satisfying than you’ve experienced. Going about looking for a meaningful job the way you’ve gone about it in the past is likely to end with similar results; results you don’t want to experience again.

It’s important to realize that you’re not at fault or to blame for going about things the way you are; even if you later realize a number of mistakes you are made. After all, until someone introduces a better way, a more effective way of getting you where you want to be, the only way you’d have succeeded entirely on your own is through trial and error, until you lucked out on whatever works. That seems pretty high risk and could take a long time.

So it seems like you have a choice to make; do things the way you’ve always done them assuming this is how everybody goes about looking for work or, open yourself up to getting help and direction from someone who knows a better way. That ‘better way’ by the way, is likely going to involve some effort on your part in two ways. One, you have to pause long enough to be open to learning the new way and two you have to be willing to give it a shot and carry out what you learn.

Keep something in mind will you? When you’re learning something new you will likely feel the urge to just get going and apply, apply, apply! But throwing your résumé around everywhere hasn’t worked to this point has it? Pausing to learn, being taught something new isn’t  everybody’s idea of a good time. You might be the kind of person that finds sitting down and being taught how to go about looking for work in 2017 is really pushing your limits. Do it anyhow. Seriously; you want a different result don’t you? Sure you do. This is the price you pay for success.

Look you deserve a decent job. You probably aren’t going to end up running some major corporation or discovering the cure for Cancer. That you want to improve your lot in Life however, do something you find personally meaningful and make a future that’s better than the present is commendable. And if I may add, you’re worth it; we all are.

You should seriously think then about reaching out for help. Where to start though? Check in with just about any Social Services organization in your local community. If you’re not in the right place, a few phone calls will likely get you pointed in the right direction. Best news is that the help you need is likely free. Sit down with open ears and a good attitude and do something you haven’t done yet; give yourself over to their expertise. If it works, great. If the chemistry doesn’t work, try someone else.

When you decide to improve things and then act, you’re already becoming the successful person you envision.

 

 

How Many Jobs Should You Apply To Per Day?


The short answer is a nice big fuzzy, “it depends.”

Now of course the logical question you’re framing in your mind is what does it depend on? Am I correct? While setting goals for yourself is commendable and strongly encouraged, it’s not always the best strategy to set a number of jobs to apply to each day when you’re out of work. That may come as a surprise to some of my readers given that I’m an Employment Counsellor.

An effective job search is about more than just filling out applications and firing off resumes to organizations online or via email. In fact, a healthy job search allocates time to a number of activities which will keep you busy and productive.

Now while you may be driven to actually apply for employment, it’s not always the case that the person who applies for the most number of jobs is ultimately the first one hired. Nor is it the case that the one who applies for the most number of jobs is the one who lands in the right job; and that can lead to many job changes when the positions don’t last long.

Sure you should look for jobs daily. By all means set aside some time in the morning to see what new postings may have come out in the last 24 hours. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that you’ve otherwise kept your eye on and find it has some extremely short deadline to apply and then miss it. How unfortunate that would be! If you also look into postings once during the afternoon, you’re already doing a good job of staying on top of what’s available.

There are other things you should be paying attention to however; and it’s these other things that will keep you productively engaged in your job search and give you enough variety so you avoid discouragement. Here’s a list:

  1. References. Now is the best time to put together a list of the people you know who will vouch for your work performance. Current or former employers, supervisors and/or co-workers are excellent choices. You’ll need a minimum of 3 of these, including the correct spelling of their names, titles, company names, phone numbers and emails. By the way, send them a current resume to have on hand as well as a note of appreciation for their ongoing support.
  2. Social Media Profile. When applying for a position, many employers will turn to the internet and dig around to find what they can about you. If you started a LinkedIn profile but never really developed it much, now is a great time to devote some attention to developing and fleshing out your profile. Put in a little effort now and you won’t feel embarrassed about your profile later.
  3. Exercise. Job searching is stressful for almost everybody and it manifests itself in physical ways. Getting out for a walk, bicycle ride, the elliptical gathering cobwebs in the basement or a trip to the gym will not only improve your physical fitness but ward off aches and pains.
  4. Enjoy A Pastime. If you need permission to spend some time doing things you enjoy, here it is. Get out in the garden, work those knitting needles, pound those keyboards, pick up that paintbrush. Setting aside some time to do things which bring you happiness and keep up your sense of normal day-to-day living is strongly encouraged. Job searching need not be all-consuming.
  5. Practice Interviewing. I know, I know, I know. This is likely something you don’t enjoy and only want to do when absolutely necessary. Still, without practice and more practice, you’re not going to be at your best just winging it on the day of the big interview. You’ll feel mounting anxiety if you put off practicing and end up sitting in some Reception area wishing you had dusted off your interview skills earlier.
  6. Work Your Network. Networking is essential; engaging with other people, taping into their resources, gaining support and advice, drawing on their expertise and experience. Be it phone calls, face-to-face, over the net, etc., devote some time to reaching out. All those friends on FB and connections on LI you’ve been building are a good place to start.
  7. Diet. By diet I do not mean lose weight. What I do mean is pay attention to both the quantity of food you consume and the quality. When you’re off work, the proximity to your pantry and fridge is considerably reduced, and your trips to both may be much more frequent. If you don’t bring junk into the house in the first place it won’t be there for you to over-indulge in during those weak moments when you crave comfort food.

There’s more you could be doing for sure, but these 7 are a good start. Setting yourself an arbitrary goal of say, 8 job applications a day will either set you up to fail or have you applying at jobs you don’t really want at all just to meet this quota.

If you’re only applying to a single job every week or less you’ve got to step things up my friend. What I’m saying is balance is the key; apply for jobs that you’re truly qualified to do and motivated to do – absolutely. It’s equally important however to get out from in front of a monitor and keep living.

 

Ask The Right Questions Or Don’t


I am privileged as an Employment Counsellor to engage in meaningful conversations with people looking for employment. If you listened in on these, you’d hear me pose a number of questions and with each answer a clearer picture of the person would be revealed.

The trap someone in my place can easily fall into is to size up the job seeker in a few moments based on all the previous job seekers one’s worked with and miss what makes this person unique. The questions I ask and especially the ones I might not, can and do make all the difference in helping that one person find the right match; what they’re really after.

For example ask the question, “So what job are you looking for?”, and I’m likely to get a simple job title. “Personal Support Worker”. This reply is correct, definitive and tells me nothing of the person themselves. If I worked in an environment where success was based solely on churning out resumes and getting people to apply for jobs measured my performance, this would be the fastest way to carry out that goal. However, that seems backwards measuring my success rather than the job seekers based on quantity and not quality.

There’s better questions to ask of someone looking for work; questions which are far more effective at assisting someone to find and keep employment. Better questions that get at the person themselves and their motivation for work.

When I ask, “So what do you want out of your next job?”, one will glibly state, “A pay cheque.” Another will say, “I want to find meaning in what I do”, or, “I want a job where I can make a difference; where I can really help others.” So of the two answers, which person would you rather have caring for you as a Personal Support Worker? I’ll opt for the person who is motivated by their wish to make a difference in the lives they’ll touch over the person working for a pay cheque.

Another good question I like to pose is, “Tell me about that job; what would you actually do?” I ask this question whether I have a really solid understanding of the daily functions of the role or not. This question is really designed to give me information on what the job entails from their perspective and how well that matches up with what employer’s set out as the responsibilities and job functions. Working in a Veterinary Clinic for example sounds appealing to those who like animals but many aren’t ready to keep their opinions and values to themselves when an owner comes to an agonizing decision to put down their beloved pet. It’s not all cuddling and grooming.

As I listen to someone describe the job they are after, I also focus my attention on not only the actual words they use but whether there is any passion or genuine love for the work described. This is most often revealed through a smile on the face, a softening of the eyes, a change in the pace of their words and some varying of the tone in their voice. Do they show and demonstrate some enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of doing this job or not? Some speak very matter-of-factly about their work of course and for many that’s exactly what it is; work.

Perhaps you’ve heard that expression, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Well, even the most ardent worker who loves their job with all they’ve got will tell you they still make a significant investment in their time working to improve their productivity, working to keep their high standard of performance or working to keep up with best practices. Stop working at being your best and you rot. So if we all ‘work’ at work, why isn’t the experience of work the same for everyone?

Simply put, it’s what we put in and what we get out of it; investment and return. The best athletes aren’t just naturally gifted, they invest countless hours training, improving, working on elevating their performance to be the best they can be. The brightest often experiment and when they don’t succeed they embrace that failure and learn from what didn’t work to discover what will. So when I ask, “What are willing to put into the job?”, if they answer with the question, “You mean overtime?” that tells me volumes.

Here’s what I think about, “overtime”. I find that a person I work with will often end up over time securing a job which differs from the one they originally identified to me because having got to know them better, together we’ve found a better fit. In other words, with some question and answers, they’ve discovered that finding satisfying and fulfilling work is more than just finding a job.

If you believe that in this economy this kind of thinking is a luxury and one can only hope for a job and a pay cheque, you are entitled to that opinion. There are professionals who will gladly take your money and your time while mass producing your resumes.

As an alternative, let’s ask some probing questions; get to the heart of what makes you unique and find where you’ll truly live that passion that seems so elusive.

I’d love to hear your own thoughts on this. Please comment and share.

 

Reframe The Job Interview


Looking for a job, writing resumes, going to interviews, worrying about whether they will call you or ignore you; this isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. In fact, most of those I know see the process as a roller coaster of ups and downs, built up expectations and dashed hopes. In short, a stressful experience to be ended as soon as possible by getting a job.

When I ask job seekers to share with me what they find most annoying or unpleasant about looking for work they almost always tell me it’s the job interviews. They typically say they hate them, (and hate is a pretty strong word). Why does this word get used over and over to describe the experience? Typically it’s because of those feelings of nervousness, feeling judged, evaluated, setting themselves up to be accepted or rejected.

Imagine how the experience of the job interview, and more importantly the anticipation of the job interview became something to look forward to however; something you perceived as an enjoyable experience. If job interviews were fun wouldn’t you look forward to them even if, yes they still caused you some nervousness?

An analogy might help us out here….hmmm….what would work for us…? Ah ha! Think of going on a date with someone you’ve heard good things about. Better than a blind date set up by one of your friends, suppose you’ve got a date Friday night with someone you’re looking forward to meeting face-to-face. You’re looking forward to sitting down with them because what you’ve learned so far about them has your interest peaked. You hope that meeting them in-person they’ll live up to what you’ve found out so far. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but it’s a good nervous and the anticipation is a good thing.

Why can’t a job interview be along the same lines? You do your homework and find out about the company you are interviewing with. You hope when you sit down face-to-face that they’ll live up to your expectations. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but again it’s a good nervous. You just might make a long-term working relationship out of this first meeting. You’re hoping to hit it off with them and them with you. Just like a first date, you spruce yourself up and look your best and come ready for conversation.

Now perhaps you can’t see any parallel beyond what I’ve described. In your view, it’s not like a date because in a first date each person comes with their questions, each feeling out the other and the conversation goes back and forth. Perhaps it doesn’t work for you personally because you view the job interview not so much as a first date but more like an interrogation from some spy movie where you sit on a cold steel chair under some intense light being grilled by some thug extracting all your information in the most unpleasant of circumstances. The worst part is that by submitting your résumé, you actually walked into this interrogation voluntarily!

Job interviews are like so many other things in life; how we perceive them in our minds goes a long way to how we will actually experience them. Imagine it to be an interrogation and that’s what it will be. Imagine it to be a fun enjoyable experience and it will be as well. Now I know it takes more than just picturing it as a positive experience to make it so, but when you shift your thinking to seeing interviews as good experiences to look forward to, you’ll also find putting in the work to make the experience a positive one is something you’ll undertake with enthusiasm.

That date this Friday evening? Likely you’ll get your outfit ready ahead of time, you’ll wonder what you’ll talk about and prepare yourself with a few questions for them. You also think about what you’ll share on this first date, probably putting your best qualities on display and concealing some of your faults until you get to know them better. You’ll think about what you’ll do, wonder how you’ll get out of it if things don’t go well, or if they do, you hope they’ll like you as much as you like them. When it’s over, you’ll hope they’ll reach out and ask to see you again or be receptive to your own follow-up.

Sounds like an interview to me! In fact, what if the term, ‘job interview’ was replaced with, ‘opportunity conversation’? What if you told yourself you have an upcoming conversation about an opportunity? It’s just a small thing perhaps but it’s one step of reframing this experience from the negative event you dislike into one that you could view as positive; something to look forward to even.

Conversations are one way we find out information and confirm what we’ve learned previously. For both you and the interviewer(s), this interview is an opportunity to sit down face-to-face and get to know one another. They’ve got your résumé and you’ve got their website and whatever your research has revealed ahead of time. Now they and you have a chance to ask questions, listen and rate each other, ultimately deciding if you have a future together and if so, under what conditions.

Tell yourself ahead of time this date is going to be a disaster and it likely will be. Envision it positively and it has a chance to work out and be enjoyable; for both of you.

Job Searching: Jean And Sarah’s Journey


Today I’d like to share the stories of two women I’ve been working with of late, both of whom have been looking for employment. While it may appear to the casual observer that both are job searching in a similar fashion, in reality they are taking very different ways to obtain work which will bring them happiness and security. While I’m telling you their stories, I’ve taking the liberty of changing up their names to respect and safeguard their confidentiality.

Interestingly I met both women for the first time when they accepted an invitation to participate in an intensive job search program I run. They’d both been searching unsuccessfully prior to our meeting and both seemed eager to find work. During the two weeks we spent together on a daily basis, both revamped their resumes, strengthened their cover letters and interviewing skills and both were encouraged to target their applications to specific employers rather than send out generalized applications. In other words, both got the same message and advice on how to ultimately land the jobs they were after.

Jean is pretty clear about her ultimate employment goal as she’s after a position in a Human Resources role. She’s got recent education, a positive outlook and while she has experience, it’s rather limited to her placements through school. Of course she has other work history to draw on, just not in her field of choice. Hey, everybody has to start somewhere right?

Sarah by contrast isn’t committed to any one employment goal. She’s got a wealth of experience in Office Administration but finds the routine familiarity of the job wears on her and she needs more stimulation and variety. She’s got great interpersonal skills, a positive friendly attitude and is also open to retail sales and working in a call centre, but if she had her way she’d love to make a living as a Singer. She’s got talent I will say, but whether it’s enough to pay the bills and earn a livelihood? That’s debatable.

As the two went about their job search, I noticed that both women got on well together and shared enthusiasm for the work involved which is always a good sign. They were both applying for jobs they felt they had qualifications for, and both got several interviews and job offers. Only one of the two however actually accepted a job while the other turned down opportunities and is still looking. Why you ask? Let’s look at that.

Jean is the lady who accepted a job. Remember she was the one looking for an HR job and she had little experience in this role beyond what she learned in school coupled with a co-op placement. Jean realized that she was competing for jobs not only with others like her who have recently graduated with little experience but also with the many other people out there who have the experience she lacks and are working in other roles just waiting for HR job postings. That as it turns out is a lot of people.

While she kept applying to jobs which popped up for HR positions, she turned her attention away from just scouring the internet for these jobs alone. She realized that all companies have people performing HR roles, so she started looking for a large organization that is well-respected, stable and in her community. She shifted her thinking from finding an HR job to finding employment with a company of choice in any capacity to get inside. Once hired, she could then learn about internal postings and have an edge over those on the outside which would reduce the competition and at the same time provide her with an income.

Sarah on the other hand, for all her skills, remained torn between the Office Administration jobs she had the skills and experience for but didn’t love, the retail sales jobs she finds a lack of satisfaction in, and the call center jobs she can do but doesn’t get to use her creativity in. Of course there’s a music career that would bring the creativity and passion but is less stable and takes a lot to launch.

In a recent conversation Sarah said she had 7 interviews of late and 3 job offers but she turned them down. Why? Well one job was going to be 12 hour shifts which she felt too long. I pointed out that the 4 days she’d be working those shifts would give her 1 weekday to do whatever she was truly passionate about but it didn’t appeal.

While both Jean and Sarah applied for different kinds of jobs, to date it is Jean who is employed. She works for a large big box home improvement employer in their lighting department. She’s working to get past probation and ultimately has her eye on an HR job down the road working off the sales floor. She’s happy and still focused on her long-term goal which makes her sales job more than bearable.

Sarah’s main issue is not having yet decided what she ultimately wants. This  has left her conflicted, for when she moves towards something she likes, part of her realizes she’s moving away from something else she also likes and she gets nervous. So what happens? She retreats back to the middle for fear of making the wrong move and is paralyzed.

My advice? Settle on what you want and stay focused.

 

“Why Volunteer? I Need A Job!”


Some people are out pursuing careers while others are out looking for jobs. Why would volunteering; essentially doing the work without getting paid for it, be in anyone’s best interests who is currently out of work? After all, it won’t help pay the bills.

Giving others the benefit of your time through volunteering, (working without financial payment for your services) is – as those who volunteer will tell you – tremendously rewarding. You do benefit from giving of yourself, just not in the traditional sense of receiving financial compensation. However, if you scoff at the idea of working for nothing, you’ll be foolish to turn a blind eye to volunteering as it will strengthen your future employment applications. There are good solid reasons why employers like seeing volunteer positions on a resume and make no mistake; the best of employers see value in people who give of themselves in helping others.

So let’s look at volunteering in a rather odd way; a selfish way. What’s in it for you? This is a legitimate question; a good question! After all, when you’re out of work and need a job to pay the bills it does sound counter productive to just give away your time for nothing and as a result have even less time to hunt down work that pays.

Well for starters, volunteering keeps you connected to people. Whether you’re volunteering your time in a warehouse packaging food hampers or helping to build a home in your community for a family in need, you’re going to interact with people. If you have good people skills already, you’ll continue to develop and nurture those skills. If you aren’t really comfortable dealing with others in the first place, you’ll be in a position to start working on your interpersonal skills and ward off feelings of anxiety that come from a lack of interaction with others. It doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly go on to a career as a charismatic public speaker, but as most jobs do require some degree of social interaction; ie. the interview process for example, volunteering brings you into contact with others in a non-threatening way.

Guess what? You’re going to feel better about yourself too. Yep, you can get pretty down on yourself and Life in general when you’re out of work and keep getting rejected by employers. All those questions like, “What’s wrong with me?”, “Why can’t I get a job?” can lead to feelings of low self-worth leading to anxiety and ultimately depression.

When you volunteer, you’re wanted! People look forward to seeing you, they appreciate your skills and efforts. You start feeling connected to a cause, connected to others, welcomed and with this your self-esteem gets a boost. You’ll also find you’re picking up some skills from others, staying up-to-date with best practices and no matter what you are actually doing, you’re developing some good work habits that employers value. It’s true! You’ve got a schedule you’re expected to meet, responsibilities that you’re counted on to fulfill, and of course it’s hoped you’ll be punctual and accountable for your time. Make no mistake, it is volunteering but its’ volunteer work.

Another benefit is the good references you may be building up; references you could leverage and use to your own advantage when applying to paying jobs. References from the place you volunteer can speak to your cooperative attitude, your dependability, your work ethic and your willingness to learn. If one of your problems is out-of-date references or none whatsoever, this is a very good way to establish some current ones. Pass by on volunteering your time and how else are you going to get some references? Please don’t get friends to lie for you and pretend to be past employers – using friends for your own gain says much about your character if you do.

It’s not so unusual to find that paid employment arises out of volunteer experiences. Some organizations make a habit of hiring their volunteers when the opportunities arise. In this sense your volunteer placement is really one very long on-the-job interview. It could be that while the organization you volunteer with doesn’t have openings to hire itself, but those you volunteer alongside recognize your positives and pass your name on to their own employers where they work and tell you about openings you should apply to. Hey it does happen; more than you think!

Now lest you think that you’ll have no time to look for a paying job, I’m not advocating that you drop your job search and spend 35 hours a week donating your time. No, you can balance your time between job searching and volunteering – say one morning a week or twice at most. Volunteer organizations understand the need for money and most would pay you if they could. So letting them know you are really looking for paid employment but would like to donate something of yourself while you have some time is something they’ll understand.

Finally, if you haven’t worked in a long time – maybe never – the whole job search thing can be intimidating and downright scary. Volunteer your time and you’ll build some self-confidence and just feel good about yourself. This could be a key part in your long-term plan to gain employment for which you’re just not ready at the moment.

Volunteering makes a lot of sense. Giving of yourself can also be self-serving in a very good way!