Strategic Volunteering for Job-Seekers

Over the years I’ve worked for Volunteer Victoria I’ve done many presentations on the topic of volunteering to adult groups. (My colleagues in the youth program make presentations to youth groups.) Lately, I find myself talking a lot – especially to people in career transition – about strategic volunteering.

While this may be a new term to some of you the concept isn’t that hard to grasp. Essentially it means that while volunteers are offering their time and talents for free to an agency that needs their help, they are in turn receiving something that is important to them. Since we know that people volunteer for all different reasons, the “important thing” they receive will be different for everyone. It’s the thing that motivates them to volunteer in the first place. For example, do you want to start volunteering to make connections in the community? Do you simply want a way to get out of the house and do something fun? Or do you want to build your resume and use or gain work-related experience by volunteering? It’s the latter concept that I talk a lot about when speaking to people searching for work.

On first blush many job-seekers may wonder why they should make time in their schedule to volunteer when they really are interesting in looking for paid work. But once job-seekers realize that many skills can be built  and enhanced through volunteer opportunities – and at less risk – they start to warm up to this idea. Volunteering strategically means doing the homework on yourself to figure out what it is that you want to get out of volunteering, and then going out and shopping around for volunteer opportunities that are going to help you get it. Our volunteer database is a great tool to search for something relevant to your job search, and if you don’t find something there you can start approaching agencies directly to pitch a relevant volunteer opportunity that you create for yourself. Yes, that is possible!

Remember, when volunteering strategically you’re in the driver’s seat. Be up front with the coordinator of volunteers at the particular agency you’re interested in about what you’re trying to do and for how long you think you can volunteer. It may take you some conversations and tries with a few different agencies to see how you can find a win-win situation for both you and the agency both (because of course, they still have a mission to accomplish), but the truer you stay to your strategic volunteering goal, the easier it will be to get yourself the kind of experience you need.

Once you start volunteering, don’t forget to put your volunteer experience on your resume, add it to your LinkedIn profile, and talk about it in your interviews. And if you want any more tips, or a presentation to your local adult groups about Strategic Volunteering, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at Volunteer Victoria.

Good luck on volunteering for work experience and on your job search!



Back to school and mandatory volunteer experience hours

Welcome back to the beginning of the school year, and the first few gusts of fall air. September is the time that many families, students, teachers and community members begin to plan out the next few months – what will your workload be like? What extra curriculars will you be participating in? Will you consider volunteering?

You may know that the BC Ministry of Education requires all BC students to complete Graduation Transitions in order to graduate. In fact, you will find on the BC Ministry of Ed site that all B.C. secondary school students must demonstrate they have met the following requirements in order to graduate:

    • Personal Health – maintain a personal health plan and participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
    • Community Connections – participate in at least 30 hours of work experience and/or community service and describe what was learned.
    • Career and Life – complete a transition plan and present significant accomplishments.

Our Volunteer Victoria Youth Volunteer Connections Program staff go out to schools and talk to grade 10 classes about the role of volunteering in their lives, and the very important role it plays in their graduation transitions. It’s true that those 30 hours can be completed through work experience, but not every highschool student has a part-time job. We like to plant the ‘volunteering seed’ early in student’s senior years that they can take advantage of the time to get their work or volunteer experience incrementally – imagine the difference between volunteering someplace that you really enjoy, where you feel proud and connected to the work you do over a few months or years; versus volunteering for two weeks in whatever you can get your hands on in order to finish those long 30 hours, moments before the grad transition deadline. It really does make a difference – not simply to the enjoyment of the position, but taking time with a volunteer position also allows for greater resume and skills building.

That being said, we are here for all young people 15-29 years old to help satisfy volunteer goals and needs – whether it’s for a quick volunteering blitz, to find a  strategic volunteering position for work experience, or to find ways to fulfill those 30 hours in as fun and fulfilling a way as possible. Our Victoria non-profits really benefit from the volunteer energy, skills and talents that young people bring to their work.

If you or someone you know is looking to get involved by volunteering, come check out our upcoming Volunteer Fair, held at UVic in the Student Union Building from 10-3pm on Monday September 12th. 42 non-profit organizations will be there looking for volunteers!

If you would like more information about how we can help someone find a great volunteer position, or more information about our presentations, please contact Leanna at or 250 386-2269

Book an appointment with Personnel Calendar using SetMore