How to Turn Volunteer Work Into a Job

You have heard that a good way to access the hidden job market is by volunteering.  However, you’ve spent time doing volunteer work, but it has never turned into a paying job.  While there are no guarantees, here are some ways to increase the likelihood that your volunteer work will lead to paid employment:

1.  Make Connections.  Much of the value of volunteer work lies in the networking opportunities.  When volunteering, you become an insider in the organization.  Take this opportunity to reach out and make connections whenever you can.  Sometimes the best job leads come from the most unlikely sources.

2.  Take Initiative.  When volunteering, it is easy to get stuck doing one task over and over again.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Ask to try other tasks.  This will give them a taste of the variety of tasks of which you are capable, it will give you exposure to other employees and managers, and it will provide you with more experiences to put on your resume.

3.  Pay Attention.  Volunteering gives you the inside scoop.  Keep your eyes open and try to determine what type of position may be opening up in the near future.  See if you can do some tasks that will showcase your skills in that particular area.

4.  Show Your Interest.  Sometimes volunteers aren’t considered for job opportunities because the employer doesn’t even know that they are looking for a position.  Be sure that the manager knows that you would be interested in any open opportunity.

5.  Continue Your Job Search.    Don’t stop your job search when you start volunteering.  It can take more than a year for a volunteer position to lead to a paid position and in some cases, it may never happen.  Continue your job search and include your volunteer position on your resume.

Volunteer work provides a variety of rewards:  You are contributing to your community; you are showcasing your skills and your professionalism; and you are making valuable networking contacts.  Don’t forget the other benefits when trying to use volunteer work to access the hidden job market.  Volunteer work will not always lead to a job, but it is a useful tool when used in conjunction with other strategies.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: digitalart /


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