by Emma Claudius
A new year is often associated with making resolutions, improvements, and changes. And while the economy has been slowly improving and changing, many people are still without full-time employment. However, now is the perfect time to introduce something new that can not only make positive personal and community effects, but can help fill out a resume with new skills and experience. Now is the time to become a volunteer.
January is the perfect time to get started with volunteering. The Corporation for National and Community Service has declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be a national day of service. Observed this year on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be plentiful with volunteer opportunities around the country. Just a few available in Wyandotte County: book drive organization with Reach Out and Read, volunteers in police service with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, and community emergency response with Wyandotte County, Kan., Citizens Corps Council.
Not only does volunteering offer a sense of accomplishment and help communities to grow, but it is a free way to learn new skills. A volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, for instance, might learn basic building and carpentry skills. That should be added to a resume. Listing volunteer involvement with an organization on a resume not only shows potential employers an interest in helping others, it also gives the prospective employee a new skill set about which to brag. Perhaps an individual is new to computers and wants to improve his typing and web navigation skills. Many nonprofit organizations are often looking for volunteers to help with office work, and practicing on a computer while helping complete their daily tasks is a win-win situation.
There are volunteer opportunities to suit all skill levels and interests. Find something inspiring and go for it. Churches are great places to start when volunteering for the first time. The church might need help with cleaning or clerical tasks, but it may also have community partners to which you could be referred. Another way to find opportunities is online. Websites like volunteermatch.com, allforgood.org, and nationalservice.gov can help pinpoint volunteer opportunities based both on interests and location. Finally, ask around. Most people already know someone who volunteers. It can be intimidating to go somewhere new and do unfamiliar work, so starting out with a friend or family member who is experienced can be very reassuring.
Volunteering doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it is something that can have a big effect on both the volunteer and the beneficiary. Don’t think that because volunteering isn’t paid that it shouldn’t be included on a resume; it is still work and deserves a mention. It could be the missing piece in the search for the perfect job.
Emma Claudius is the business librarian for the Main Kansas City, Kan., Public Library, 625 Minnesota, Kansas City, Kan.