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Volunteering a great way to gain experience and knowledge in your industry of choice

Volunteering within a particular industry can also help get your foot in the door

If you’re considering trying out a new industry, or you’re looking to gain some workplace skills, volunteering might be your best option. It’s an effective way to test the waters of a particular employer or industry you’re thinking about trying out.

Eran Devine is an employment coach with Agilec’s Orillia branch and says potential volunteers have plenty to gain by volunteering their time.

“All those things that employers want in an employee, you can gain those skills in a volunteer role,” Devine said. “And if it’s related to an industry you’re looking to be in, not only have you gained general professional skills, you’ve gained industry-specific skills, too.”

In the case of youth or someone with little to no experience in the sector, volunteering is one way they can beef up their resume and gain transferrable skills they can put towards their next paid position. Building confidence and networking are a few other added benefits from volunteering.

Three great resources for those seeking volunteer positions include Orillia Volunteer Connection, Charity Village, and Volunteer Canada. There may even be remote volunteer positions available where candidates can perform their tasks working from home.

If there’s one particular organization you’re really passionate about, but they don’t have any volunteer postings available, cold calling the business and asking what’s available may help get your foot in the door.

And any volunteer position that lasts eight or more weeks often warrants a listing onto your resume as work experience. It’s far more than just a footnote; adding your title, duties and achievements from your volunteer role can help fill out a resume.

Volunteering doesn’t always require an enormous time commitment, and it can even be event or project-based sessions. Most employers are grateful for whatever time you’re able to spare and they’re generally accommodating to all requests.

“There are so many opportunities and not everybody has the capacity to volunteer,” Devine said. “Some people might have barriers like time, finances, child care or transportation. Everybody’s situation is different, but there are so many volunteer roles and opportunities that there’s a fit for everyone out there.”

Just as you’d do your homework when seeking employment, the same goes for volunteering.

Devine suggests volunteers do a little big of digging into the website and social media presence of the volunteer placement to see if they align with your values and what’s important to you.

“Most of us show up to work because we need the money. Yes, you want to like what you do, but with volunteering, the passion for what you’re doing becomes even more important,” Devine said. “That’s what you’re going to get back; not just that experience, but that sense that you’re a part of something that’s important to you.”

January and February tend to be slower months in some industries, so this might be the perfect time to see if volunteering may be right for your situation. If you have the bandwidth and ability to donate your time, you may find you’ll be rewarded in spades.

Especially if you’re finding difficulty cracking into a particular industry, taking some time and energy to volunteer could provide that breakthrough you’ve been looking for.

"So much of finding employment is pieces that are out of your control,” Devine said. “Waiting to be asked for an interview. Waiting on results of interview. Volunteering can give an individual a sense of control and autonomy over the process."

To learn more about volunteer positions available in the Orillia area, speak to an Agilec job coach today. Find out more at