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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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Gaining Work Experience as a Newcomer to Toronto

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 18, 2015
Updated: November 15, 2019
 
 
 Photo from New To Canada Website
 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

Are you new to Toronto? Interested in finding ways to gain employment, improve your English skills, and connect with your community? Volunteering could be your ticket to achieving all of those things!

Finding work in Toronto is a struggle for many people, but for newcomers, the barrier is even greater. It might be because some employers and regulatory bodies require Canadian experience as a legitimate job requirement. Other employers may simply want to ensure that you are aware of Canadian employment standards or may not have practices in place to evaluate your language and communication skills.  

When you volunteer, you have the opportunity to gain work experience, network and gain references, make new friends, and learn more about the city where you live. 

So, how do you get started volunteering? Below we'll answer some common questions to help you get started:

 

What is volunteering?  

The act of volunteering is the giving of time and service, usually at non-profits (organizations that don’t exist to make a profit but instead serve a certain cause) and community organizations.


What is the time commitment?

Volunteer opportunities can vary in length of time and depend on the type of activity and your availability. You can volunteer for an event held on a specified day, this is called a "special event." When you commit to an organization for less than three months, it is called a "short-term" opportunity. Lastly, a "long-term" opportunity is one that will last for more than three months.

 

Can I volunteer if I don’t have Canadian references?  Do I need a work permit? 

References can come from your country of origin, do not need to be from employers and can come from other sources such as friends, landlords or workers.  A work permit is not needed, and you can volunteer on a visitor or student visa.

 

I want to practice my English, what type of volunteer opportunities should I look for?


Looking for opportunities that are predominantly task based will allow you to meet new people and practice your English-speaking skills.  When using Volunteer Toronto's search engine, select "Event Assistance Positions," Animal Care Positions," "Fundraising," and "Working with Newcomers" from the drop-down category menu, as these opportunities are better suited for people who are learning English. 

 

How do I start? 

To get started you must Reflect, Research, Reach Out. Ask yourself, what are my interests? What are my skills? How much time can I offer? What do I want to gain? Click on"Volunteer Opportunities" under the "Volunteer" tab on the volunteertoronto.ca home page to explore all the available positions.  Apply by following the instructions in the position description. Contact the person listed if you have any questions. Volunteer Toronto’s How To Start Volunteering page is another great resource to help you start your volunteering journey.

 

Karishma Mohammed moved to Canada in 2014 from Trinidad and Tobago. When asked what surprised her about volunteering, she responded: 

“My initial intention was to be involved in a charity that would 'look good' on my resume but, when I actually became more involved in volunteer work, it took a life of its own. … I got so much in return, I met people from all walks of life, I learned to appreciate that good ideas can come from anywhere and that no one is too old or young to volunteer.”

 

 

Jaime Yumiseva from Ecuador, also moved to Canada in 2014. When reflecting on his volunteer contributions he said:

“My most rewarding experience has been being able to contribute to committed organizations, committed administrators and committed attendees. Volunteering allows me to see how my time influences the life of somebody else, even if it is for a short while … and has made me realize that there is so much more to give. Volunteering is my way to share my happiness and knowledge with others.”

   

If you have a hyper-specialized skill, it is unlikely you will find a volunteer opportunity that allows you to gain that specific experience here in Toronto. Try breaking down the components of that skill and research the volunteer opportunities that might fit the experience you need.

Looking for further advice? Why not attend one of our free "Volunteering as a Newcomer" info sessions? These sessions are delivered by our experienced Volunteer Ambassadors, many of whom are newcomers themselves! Click here for a list of upcoming dates and locations. 

Can’t attend on Thursday? Book a free, 30-minute, one-on-one appointment with a volunteer advisor. They can help you find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you.

 

Tags:  Canadian work experience  finding work experience  finding work in Toronto  How to get work experience  How to start volunteering  job experience  new immigrant  newcomers to Toronto  on work experience  unemployment  Volunteering as a newcomer 

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