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Improve Your Résumé With Volunteer Work

In between jobs? Do some good and build your professional skills, too

Buying into the idea of volunteering your skills as you job hunt? Keep these tips in mind:

1. Choose wisely. Make sure the job fits you. “Really scrutinize what you are getting into,” says Jeff Foley, national workforce coordinator for the AARP Foundation Virtual Job Coach Program. “It will make a difference in your ability to do that job.”

2. Find your passion. Try to find a cause to which you have a personal connection, Schmitt says. “You'll be much more productive, and feel much better at the end of the day.”

3. Be at your best. Don’t slack off because you’re working for free. In fact, work even harder as a volunteer, Talley says. “This is what you're saying you want to do. People can see that you like what you're doing.”

4. Don’t assume they’ll hire you. Take a volunteer job purely for the experience. If you’re offered a staff position, then it’s icing on the cake, right?  Volunteering “may not be a means to employment,” Winter says. “But a lot of people want to make good on a promise to give back. Some are looking to network and meet people.”

5. Try professional organizations. Search for volunteer positions with organizations such as Taproot, Probono.net or Catchafire.org. But also shop job search engines such as Indeed.com for pro bono work.

6. Smile, be positive. Make them wish they could afford to pay you. “It's all about the attitude that people bring to the job,” Talley says. “We lose sight of that. People want to be around folks they don't have to worry about.”

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