How to Volunteer Your Way to a Better Job
Job competition these days is tough and a lot is expected from a resume. High school students trying to get into good colleges worry about volunteer hours. Recent college grads don’t possess enough “real world” experience to work in their chosen industry. Mid-level professionals find it hard to prove to higher ups that they’re ready for the next level. Finally, people are living longer and trying to find meaning in their days after they retire.But there is an easy solution for all of these struggles in the various stages of life—volunteerism. Improve Your Job Prospects as a Chamber Volunteer Volunteerism is quickly becoming an expectation. Companies want employees who care, but sometimes volunteering for the wrong organization can bias a hiring decision. While any volunteer role makes you look like a caring individual, some place you in a better position to be hired or advance your current position. You can even use volunteerism to audition a role to see if it’s something you want to do professionally. Volunteer leadership at the chamber is an ideal way to advance your career. Here are some of the ways to do it: 1.Event Volunteers This is probably the greatest need at the chamber because there are many events throughout the year. It’s also a way for members and nonmembers to get experience hosting and coordinating events. Volunteering on this level can help you make community contacts with other businesses as well. Events require marketing help, registration, communications, speaker coordination, and a host of other tasks that are applicable across industries. 2.Leadership If you’d like to sit on a corporate or nonprofit board someday, you’ll likely need experience. The chamber board positions offer working experience in leadership, budgeting, strategic planning, hiring decisions, and much more. 3.Social Media Some chambers use social media ambassadors to help them spread their message. This is a great way to use social media for business and stay connected to what’s going on in your area. It’s the type of volunteer position that can be done from anywhere on your time. Plus, the chamber of commerce has a strong reputation in the business community. Volunteering as part of their social media team shows you can handle yourself professionally online. It’s also a good way to build your personal brand, something that’s extremely important in today’s digital universe. 4.Thought Leadership A volunteer opportunity that you may not be thinking of is creating valuable content for your chamber and business community. If you’re an expert in a field that other businesses would have an interest in, you may be able to be a guest blogger for the chamber or a writer for their newsletter. Some chambers have a resident tech expert who shares new tech and apps that are helpful to business people but other content specialists work well too such as tax experts, marketing gurus, and others. Many times you’ll receive a by-line and link to your website for your contribution. 5.Committees If you have a specific interest such as marketing or job creation, you may be able to join a chamber committee that appeals to you and your area of expertise. The chamber is always looking for leaders in the community to give their feedback and advice on how they can service members and the community better. If you’d like to see local schools address specific skills and train for certain trades, for instance, being part of a workforce initiative with the chamber helps your voice get heard and improves the business community. A Final Word About Volunteering for the Chamber There is a wealth of volunteer opportunities at your local chamber of commerce. While they would love the help, there are also some very rich possibilities for your career in these highly visible roles. Simply contact the chamber and share your skillset. They’ll help you find something that suits your abilities and helps you accomplish your career goals. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.