With our economy in a slump, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. As a response, many people are either looking to make a career change or add to their current skills to become more marketable. For those currently out of work, some may simply be interested in keeping their job skills sharp.

One of the ways those in the workforce are gaining this type of experience is through volunteerism. In fact, over 75% of those polled in the 2005 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT study responded that volunteerism helped further their occupations. So, as your organization engages career-minded volunteers, you will be providing yet another service to your community: offering its members the chance to hone skills that may help them advance in a career or transition to a new one.

If you haven’t thought about it before, you may want to consider developing a flyer or brochure that specifically addresses the benefits volunteers reap from your agency. Of course, be sure to distribute these materials in the places people are looking for work.

When addressing those seeking an entry-level position in a new career or those hoping to advance in a current position, be sure to stress the following:

  • Development of management skills – Here is one of the biggest areas this demographic is trying to hone. Many people do not get a chance to exercise these abilities during their day job but could get the chance to head up a portion of a fundraising drive or other volunteer management initiatives through your agency.
  • Networking – Those interested in your services will forge quick connections with you and others in your field of expertise, enlarging their options for professional contacts.
  • The test drive – Don’t forget to highlight that volunteer work can serve as a way to try on a new career.

Don’t overlook other population segments that would also benefit from a volunteer stint with your organization. For those just out of or about to graduate from college, different skill sets can be highlighted. It is often a case that young adults simply need experience. However, volunteerism can also help build teamwork skills as well as self-confidence and communication skills, such as public speaking. Additionally, dont forget about appealing to stay-at-home moms that might want to become part of the workforce again.

Once these volunteers have reached your doorstep, make sure to follow through with your end of the bargain. We’ve mentioned it before, but its important to stress it again:  it is crucial to clearly examine what each volunteer is looking to get out of working with your program. Make it a priority to find out the skills s/he is hoping to develop and accommodate them to the degree with which you are comfortable.

Marketing in this way might be a new method in which to view volunteerism and approach recruitment, but hopefully everyone involved will be pleased with the results. Career-minded volunteers, in general, will tend to be more focused, motivated, and dependable – which can only help your cause. And the experience you allow them to gain will make a positive impact on both the individual volunteers and, ultimately, your community.

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