Volunteerism viewed as a catalyst to finding a job

Monday, October 14, 2013

Elaine Williams is executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy and believes volunteerism can be a “major catalyst” in helping people to find a job. One way to beat the challenges of unemployment is to consider volunteerism as a “major catalyst in finding a job”.

Volunteering can also “help you remain relevant until the next job and in creating a strong networking support system” in the interim.

According to Elaine Williams, executive director at The Centre on Philanthropy, “an often overlooked resource of opportunity is volunteerism”.

She is urging countless Bermudians out of work to take advantage of volunteer opportunities during tough economic times.

“When we face difficult economic times as an individual or as a family, it is easy for us to focus on the stress and uncertainty of our circumstances. It can be difficult to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, or to focus on opportunities for success throughout the process,” said Ms Williams.

“When hours are cut back, there is job insecurity, or job loss altogether, changes must be made and often that change must be begin with you. “Throughout uncertain economic times, it is important to utilise resources. When times are tougher, people have less disposable income but more time. “Sometimes they are ‘in-between’ jobs and have skills they can contribute, even for a short time, to a ‘cause’ or non-profit (charity) they have an interest in.”

According to Jennifer Pitcher, the Centre’s volunteer programme coordinator, the isolation caused by “being out of work can be very depressing”.

Looking for a new job can also be “exhausting”.

She noted that studies have shown that “volunteering can increase your energy, decrease depression and lessen isolation”.

“And 92 percent of volunteers maintain that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life,” she said.

“The experience of making a difference in someone else’s life can lead to a sense of greater self-worth and confidence.”

Ms Williams added: “Sometimes we need new challenges to keep our skills sharp. Volunteering your time and talent to help a non-profit allows you to leverage your skills in a new way.

“Additionally, job seekers are in a great position to explore career possibilities. Volunteering can provide an opportunity for an entry-point to a new career.

“If you’re able to balance your job search by dedicating time to give back to the community — it truly demonstrates your passion and the type of person you are to hiring managers who are known to prefer well-rounded individuals,” she said.

“Increasingly, people are including their social impact as part of their professional identity. More than one million LinkedIn members have added the Volunteer Experience & Causes section to their profile.”

She urged job seekers to “leverage their skills and contribute their time to a deserving non-profit organisation”.

“Why not consider new opportunities through volunteering which is a great way to gain exposure to new people and knowledge and is a tremendous boost to your resume,” said Ms Williams.

“Put your free time to good use and take pride in sharing your knowledge and abilities. Skills of all levels and people of all ages are always welcomed by our non-profits.”

To find a volunteer opportunity go to VOLUNTEER.bm, Bermuda’s one-stop shop for volunteering in Bermuda.

“There are over 135 non-profit seeking volunteers for over 350 activities and the site allows you to search by your interest, ability, and availability.”

For more information on the Centre of Philanthropy, call 236-7706 or go towww.centreonphilanthropy.orgwww.facebook.com/TheCentreonPhilanthropy orwww.twitter.com/philanthropybda.