One of the challenges young people have when looking for a job is a lack of work experience (or relevant work experience). When trying to craft a resume - either on your own or with the help of an employment counselor, friend or parent - you need to fill the space on the page with specific skills and attributes that relate to the job you are trying to land. If you haven't held a job before, it can be hard to come up with something to say.
One way of gaining specific skills in a working environment is through volunteering. There are many benefits to volunteering and volunteerism that go beyond populating a resume, but the most practical benefits of volunteering to a job searcher are:
- Practicing job related skills in the work place.
These skills can then be described to employers via a resume and/or interview.
- Building a reference.
If you do a good job volunteering, your supervisor will be able to give you a positive reference. This means that a potential employer can call your volunteer supervisor before hiring you to try and suss out if you'd be a good worker
The best way to find work is through the people you know. Volunteering can help you to expand your network of friends, family, and acquaintances and increase your odds of finding work. And it's not unheard of for employers to hire from their pool of volunteers; employers don't like to take risks, and hiring a volunteer is less risky than hiring an unknown.
If you are working with someone who is helping you to find work—or if you are building your own resume—don't forget to mention any volunteer, co-op, or internship experience. Skills gained from working for free can be just as valuable as those gleaned from paid work, and employers want to know about them.
If you are struggling to find a place to volunteer, ask an employment counselor for help. There are many opportunities for volunteerism in Kitchener Waterloo. And The Working Centre has volunteer opportunities too. Check out our Community Tools Projects for places you might lend a hand.