I just saw a post on LinkedIn from a past coworker who mentioned how she got her job at WorkBC from volunteering with them as an Interpreter, using her knowledge of multiple languages.
SO smart! For a job seeker, volunteering is SO worth your time! What many people neglect to do is create a SMART GOAL for the time spent.
That is what makes it strategic.
Don't get me wrong. I agree with the definition of volunteering - to freely offer to do something. But regardless of the word free - we still get something from doing that something ( good feels, make a difference, etc).I have volunteered many times myself for just that reason. I have also volunteered where I received 175 hours of FREE university level training on a subject. In return I agreed to provide 40 presentations to various groups ( aged 15-50). I was enthusiastic, which lead to additional training, train-the-trainer gigs & ultimately, a paid offer. SUPER SWEET! I know that when I started, over a decade ago as an Employment Program Workshop Facilitator, it was partly due to my volunteer experience.
So, I REALLY believe in the value of spending your time in "strategic volunteering". Besides the good feelings, you expand your network, get experience, plus possible job leads & references.
Given the stats that 80% of jobs come from the Hidden Job Market - why wouldn't a job seeker use 80% of their time there? So I say, why not volunteer with a few places at the same time? More connections = more potential opportunities.
The only difference I see is the initial discussion regarding your skills & needs in conjunction with their needs.
Determine what days & how much time you have to offer.
Be strategic with who & where you volunteer.
Discuss what skills you have that would benefit them.
Create a WIN/WIN arrangement.
,Be honest about your goals as a current job seeker (specific experience, leads & references). "My goal is to build some new professional relationships, share my skills & hopefully impress you enough to get a reference from you for my job search."
Try it - the answer is automatically no, if you don't ask.