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5 Ways Volunteering Can Enhance your Job Search

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 27, 2020
 Job Seekers

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

  

Looking for work can often be extremely challenging and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Volunteering isn’t just about giving back to your community. It’s also a great way to build skills and experience, network and cultivate references, and hone your job application skills. Let’s delve into the five ways volunteering can enhance your job search!


1. Skill Development

If you’re a recent graduate with little work experience, volunteering can provide you with opportunities for on-the-job training. If you’ve been unemployed for a significant period, volunteering can allow you to refresh both your technical and soft skills. Even if you don’t find a volunteer role that perfectly aligns with the job you’re hoping to secure, volunteering can allow you to both demonstrate and hone transferable skills like leadership, communication, and time management.

 

2. Networking

The term networking conjures up images of awkward, intimidating cocktail events where everyone scrambles to rack up LinkedIn connections. In reality, networking can happen anywhere—including while volunteering! Real networking is about developing mutually beneficial relationships. When you volunteer, you’ll have the chance, not only to get to know your supervisor and their colleagues, but to demonstrate your abilities and shining personality. As a result, they’ll be able to effectively assist you in your job search, more so than anyone you meet at a formal networking event.

 

3. Practice

The process of applying for a volunteer position is very similar to that of applying for a job, particularly if you’re applying to a long-term volunteer role involving significant responsibility. You’ll be honing your cover letter and resume writing skills, as well as your interview skills.

Cover letters are notoriously tricky. You have just one page to articulate how your unique skillset, experience, and personality make you the perfect fit for the role. Non-profits are often concerned with telling a captivating story about their own work, so be sure to tie your own story to their mission, vision, and values.

Applying to multiple volunteer opportunities will allow you to test out different resume formats, from chronological to functional, and to practice customizing your resume to match the position description. When it comes time to apply for paid positions, make sure to include your volunteer experience on your resume. Don’t be afraid to list your volunteer work under professional experience—work is work, whether paid or unpaid!

From brief telephone interviews for short-term roles to formal in-person interviews for high-responsibility, long-term roles, the volunteer screening process will give you multiple opportunities to hone your interview skills. Ensure that you prepare for common questions like, “what do you know about our organization?” and “tell us about yourself.” When it comes time to interview for your dream job, you’ll be ready to answer these questions clearly, concisely, and confidently.

 

4. Getting Feedback

Asking for feedback throughout your job or volunteer search is vital. You’ll gain insight into current hiring practices, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses, setting you up to ace your next application or interview. Competition for certain volunteer roles can be fierce, so if you aren’t selected for a position, don’t be discouraged! Instead, calmly and politely ask for feedback. Even if you do secure a role, you may still want to ask your supervisor for feedback on your performance once you’ve been volunteering for a few weeks.

 

5. Cultivating References

If a lack of recent, local references is standing between you and your dream job, volunteering may be the answer. Look for long-term volunteer roles where you’ll be able to build relationships. Before you apply, ask whether a reference is conditional on having volunteered for a minimum number of hours or months. To ensure a glowing reference, treat your volunteer role with the same gravity as you would a paid position—be punctual, communicative, and do your best.

 

We hope you found this brief overview of volunteering for jobseekers helpful. If you’d like to delve deeper into this topic and you missed our free webinar on the topic, please click here for the recording.

Tags:  Career  finding work experience  finding work in Toronto  How to get a job  How to get work experience  How to start volunteering  Skills  volunteer  Volunteering  Work 

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10 Places You Can Volunteer to Support Mental Health

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

Mental health and mental illness affect people from all walks of life and in countless ways. While confronting mental health can be overwhelming, there are many ways to support mental health as a volunteer and make an impact in other’s lives. Check out these Toronto organizations and find out how you can give your time, skills and abilities to support their mental health programs:

 

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre is a multi-service agency in Toronto’s West End, providing health and community support services for infants, children, youth and seniors.

  • Location: Davenport Road and Old Weston Road 
  • How you can volunteer: As a Community Dining Assistant, you’ll help with set-up, clean-up and cooking for Wednesday community dinners.

 

Distress Centres of Greater Toronto is a crisis support call centre available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They provide emergency support, emotional support, suicide prevention, and more.

  • Location: Yonge Street and Adelaide Street 
  • How you can volunteer: Provide immediate support to others in their time of need as a help line operator.

 

Family Service Toronto helps people facing a variety of life challenges, by assisting families and individuals through counselling, community development, advocacy and public education programs.

  • Location: Numerous sites across Toronto
  • How you can volunteer: As an Options Program Tutor and Life Skills Coach, you’ll maintain a supportive, friendly relationship with individuals who face mental health challenges. 

 

Massey Centre is an infant and early childhood mental health organization supporting pregnant and parenting adolescents, aged 13-25, and their babies. Their programs include pre-and-post natal residential care, primary health care and maternal infant mental health.

  • Location: Broadview Avenue and Danforth Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Parent Relief Volunteers provide basic child care while young mothers take much-needed breaks or run errands. 

 

Mental Health Support Network (MHSN) is a face-to-face peer support group where members help each other and themselves and the same time. With over 3000 members it's the largest organization of its kind in Canada.

  • Location: King Street and Roncesvalles Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: MHSN is always looking for passionate committee members to provide input and keep their programming on the right track.

 

Senior Persons Living Connected (SPLC) provides programs and services that meet the diverse needs of older adults and their caregivers. Services include seniors housing, counselling and social, recreational and fitness programs.

  • Location: Warden Avenue and Finch Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Friendly Visitors spend time with seniors, engaging in conversation and leisure activities. 

 

SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (formerly The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre) combines prevention, treatment, research and education to support children, youth and families facing mental health challenges.

  • Location: Keele St. and Sheppard Avenue West or Jarvis St. and Wellesley St. East
  • How you can volunteer: Research Assistants contribute to CCMH’s inter-disciplinary, evidenced-based mental health treatment and support system. 

 

The Gatehouse provides support, community and resources for individuals impacted by childhood sexual abuse, including an Investigation Support Program, Art Therapy and the Transforming Trauma Conference.

  • Location: Lakeshore Blvd. and Kipling Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Give your time as a Peer Support Group Facilitator, supporting those impacted by childhood sexual abuse. 

 

Victim Services Toronto provides immediate crisis response, intervention and prevention services to individuals, families and communities affected by crime and sudden tragedies. Programs include The Trauma Dog Program, High Risk Support Services and Teens Ending Abusive Relationships (TEAR).

  • Location: Yonge St. and College St.
  • How you can volunteer: Crisis Counsellor Volunteers work alongside professional crisis counsellors to support victims in Toronto. 

 

Yorktown Family Services is dedicated to providing effective, accessible, quality mental health treatment, prevention and outreach services to children, youth, women and families. The agency is divided into a Child and Family Centre and a Shelter for Women and their children, fleeing abusive relationships.

  • Location: Dufferin St. and Eglinton Avenue West 
  • How you can volunteer: Walk-In Clinic Counsellors bring their professional counselling experience to the Family Centre and Shelter, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 

 

Is your perfect volunteer role not in this list? Most of these organizations have multiple volunteer opportunities, so make sure you visit their websites to find out more. If you still can’t find the right fit, search Volunteer Toronto’s database using the keywords “mental health” or contact a Volunteer Advisor at 416-961-6888 x 232 or advisors@volunteertoronto.ca.

 

Tags:  Abuse Stories  Activism  Activists  Anti-Bulling  Frequently Asked Questions  friendly visitor  Give Back  health care volunteer positions  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  Leadership  Make a Difference  Mental Health  Mentorship  Questions about volunteering  skilled volunteering  Skills  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteer leaders  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer 

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Why Group Volunteering isn't as Easy as You Think

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes | Written by Melina Condren

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more for-profit organizations seek out group volunteering in order to boost employee engagement and expand their social responsibility strategies. Unfortunately, finding a volunteer opportunity for your team AND making a big impact with a non-profit partner isn’t always easy.

On a practical level, many non-profits simply don’t have the space to accommodate a crowd of people. In addition to taking a lot of space, it also takes a lot of time and effort to organize team opportunities. Between planning a task, making sure everyone is properly trained, setting up and cleaning up the space, and all the other responsibilities that are part of holding a successful large-scale event, many volunteer managers don’t have the time to invest in group volunteering. Finally, the type of work that can get done by a group in one day isn’t always the type of work that’s needed most.

To make sure your volunteer experience steers clear of these pitfalls, here are five tips to get you started in planning meaningful, high-impact group volunteering:

 

Plan ahead

We get a lot of last-minute inquiries about group volunteer opportunities, but the truth is that many of them fill up months in advance. Start planning early to make sure that you find an opportunity that aligns with your organization’s mission and values, and to give the non-profit you’re working with plenty of time to prepare.

Split up into teams

Finding two volunteer opportunities for twenty people may be easier than finding one opportunity for forty. If you have a large group and you want everyone to volunteer, consider breaking up into smaller teams and helping out a few different causes. You’ll be able to choose from a much wider range of non-profits to work with, since so many can’t accommodate crowds.

Be prepared to donate money, not just time

Engaging large groups of volunteers takes a lot of time, effort, and resources, so the return on investment just isn’t worth it for many non-profits. Be prepared to make a financial contribution to help cover the costs of the staff time and resources that are being invested to make your volunteer experience successful or donate the food and supplies for the program you’re assisting with. For example, if you volunteer to pack welcome bags with toiletries, towels and pyjamas for a shelter, you might be expected to donate the supplies, not just the time it takes to pack them.

Build lasting partnerships

There are many different ways that employers can support volunteering and give back to their communities—not just by having a big, one-day volunteer event. You could organize a recurring fundraising event and donate the proceeds to a charitable partner, getting your employees involved by contributing or helping to coordinate the fundraiser. Or, you could encourage your employees to volunteer individually in ongoing programs for causes they care about, and support them in doing so with flexible work hours or extra time off. You could even volunteer as a team for the same organization each year, helping to plan, staff and provide the supplies for an annual event. Whatever you choose to do, making an ongoing commitment to a non-profit that goes beyond a single day of service is one of the best ways to make a meaningful impact.

Learn best practices

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably want to learn more about how to incorporate volunteering into your organization. As a next step, I recommend taking a look at the Canadian Code for Employer Supported Volunteering. It’s a great resource put together by Volunteer Canada that provides guidance to help you establish or improve an employer supported volunteer program.

 

Group volunteering isn’t easy, but when it’s done well it can be a great way to make a difference and give back. By following these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a volunteer experience that your team, and the non-profit you support, will be grateful for.

 


Tags:  Activism  applying to volunteer  Career  City of Toronto Development  Event Volunteering  Give Back  group volunteering  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  How to volunteer to help the homeless  Leadership  Make a Difference  Office Volunteer  poverty reduction  Questions about volunteering  short-term volunteering  skilled volunteering  Skilled Volunteers  Skills  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  volunteer engagement  volunteer for one day  Volunteer for the holiday  volunteer in group  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteer leaders  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  volunteers  Ways to volunteer  What's It Like To Volunteer  Work 

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