Tracking the workplace and job market while volunteering

Many graduates from colleges find that volunteer opportunities offer better chances to experience and better skills training than simply entering the workforce as an entry level employee. Other individuals may be on the other end of the spectrum where they are changing jobs or careers and wish to use volunteering to fill time and gain experiences. In either case, moving from volunteer to paid employee requires planning and preparation. Two items you might consider in this move would be:

  • Maintaining a basic CV
  • Maintaining contact with the private sector

Maintaining the CV

Having your CV set up on a computer is a good idea. This allows you to easily adapt the CV to different employment possibilities and employers as you need to. With this in mind having two basic forms to work with helps keep events and achievements in order.

  • The first CV would be a chronological list of any achievements or employment you did. This can be done in sections divided up into paid and unpaid parts.
  • The second CV would be a skeleton of what you would need for different jobs. This CV would have all the proper components and layout, which you could flesh out for each job opening you apply for.

Maintaining Contact

When you are volunteering, either to gain experience or to fill time between employment, keeping a track of what's happening in the workforce is important. If you are engaged in the volunteer sector for more than three months time, maintaining contact allows you to keep tabs on the following:

  • Changes in technology and trends - technology and economic or social trends tend to change at a very rapid pace which could leave you trying to catch up to everyone else.
  • Changes in the workforce - new requirements, information, standards or career options could easily surface in short time; knowing this information will allow you easier access when you decide to enter the workforce.

How to Do This

Volunteering is always a good option. The single dominating issue when it comes to moving from volunteer to paid employee is that entry into the workforce is slowed because of a lack of information. Here are some ways to avoid this:

  • Stay in touch with everyone around you. Even college associates in different fields may hear of new information which could benefit your career.
  • Keep memberships and subscriptions current. Keeping tabs on the latest developments in your chosen field will allow you to compete with others who have stayed in the commercial sector.
  • Watch the job ads. This will help you maintain an eye as to what jobs are opening and what the current requirement levels are.

Being ready to move from volunteer to paid employee means that you must be ready to show prospective employers these things:

  • You have stayed current with their industry
  • You're skills have not stagnated to where they need updating before re-entry
  • You have stayed motivated and disciplined with your skills and work habits
  • You can compete with other applicants not coming from the volunteer workforce

Once you have shown the ability to do these things, moving from volunteer to paid employee will be a much easier task.