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Volunteer to build job credentials
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Job hunting when unemployed involves more than just sitting in front of a computer, sending off resumes and waiting for the phone to ring — or at least it should. Sitting at home day after day isn’t good for you — or your job hunt.
Thousands of unemployed people are taking their employment break as an opportunity to volunteer — yes, work for free — and are enjoying the benefits it can bring.
The benefits of volunteering include:
• Giving you specifics to cover any gaps in your work history. Your future employer will appreciate the fact that you didn’t sit around, that you showed initiative and tried new things.
• Free education and experience. Depending where you volunteer, you could have the opportunity to learn new money, office and people skills, and build the ones you already have. It all goes on your resume.
• Widened horizons. Volunteering in an industry that’s different from your usual work could open your eyes to the possibilities in other fields. Perhaps you’ll aim your sights in another direction, or expand the direction you’re going in now. Perhaps you’ll decide that the new industry is for you and you’ll go back to school.
• Being hired. You could end up being hired by the very place where you volunteer.
• Making contacts. You never know who has what information. The right word to the right person could start a chain of events that leads you to a permanent job. It only takes one key contact to find you that job, and you don’t know who that contact is. The more people you come in contact with during the course of a day, the wider your network will expand.
Where should you volunteer? Try museums, the Humane Society, hospitals, food banks, community gardens and parks, or after-school programs — the list of possibilities is long. Nonprofits need help more than ever as their funding has been cut in many cases, and they’re struggling. Volunteers are needed for jobs such as grant writer, bookkeeper, fundraiser, greeter in all types of settings, marketing and public relations, museum docent, meal delivery to shut-ins, translator, tour guide and much more.
The benefits to you, however, are the biggest of all. Keeping your spirits up and staying positive is important to your long-term job hunt.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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