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Why job seekers should accept seasonal employment and/or volunteer work opportunities

This month, members of the Frederick County Workforce Development Board (WDB) responded to the following question:

“Why should job seekers consider seasonal employment and/or short-term volunteer opportunities, even if the work is unrelated to their career goals?”

Here is their advice:

"Job seekers should consider seasonal employment and/or short-term volunteer opportunities, even if the work is unrelated to their career goals, because many job skills are transferrable.  You can demonstrate how you take initiative, respond to coaching, learn quickly, interact well with people, and problem solve.  You might also learn new skills/interests that take you on a different career pathway.  The supervisor from the short-term employment opportunity becomes a valuable current reference who can speak to your most recently demonstrated abilities.  Also, you never know whom you will meet while on the job.  You could make an important connection in the workplace or with a community member who then invites you to apply for full-time employment.  Think with long-term vision when faced with short-term opportunities."

– Ann Bonitatibus, Chief Operating Officer, Frederick County Public Schools

"It’s easy to get discouraged about your job search during the holidays because many companies slow down their recruitment processes until January. If a short-term or seasonal opportunity presents itself, you may want to consider it for a number of reasons. First, even if it’s not in your career field, you may have the opportunity to develop new skills or keep general professional skills fresh. Second, your gaps in employment look shorter if you take these temporary positions until something more permanent comes along. Finally, this is yet another opportunity to network with people who you may not encounter otherwise. If you do a good job in this short-term assignment, you may earn yourself a strong recommendation for a full-time position."

– Amanda Haddaway, Folcomer Equipment Corp.

"There is inherent value in the act of giving of one's time, especially during the difficult times of being a job seeker.  I was recently talking to a hospital volunteer who was laid off from mortgage banking.  She shared how happy volunteering makes her, and how much she looks forward to it each week.  As Helen Keller said, "The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves”.  I believe that volunteerism shows good character, and it is something that I am always happy to see on a resume'."

– Cheryl Cioffi, Frederick Memorial Hospital

"Unemployment can wear on you.  At times you will feel like it is hopeless.  There are times you will want a job - ANY job.  And no matter how hard you try, this feeling of desperation is impossible to hide.  It oozes from your pores, even if you think it doesn't.  But when you volunteer or do a temporary position, suddenly, without you realizing, there becomes part of your day when you are not solely focused on "the search".  You feel a sense of pride for giving back.  You are out talking to others about something other than yourself.  You stand taller and the confidence comes back.  The interviewer will see this.  Everyone wins!"

– Christine Demas, Sunny Blue Skies

"Unemployed individuals may find it refreshing to be out there working or volunteering.  It can be a healthy distraction from the mental strain of seeking employment, and may renew their optimism and energy. Many people overlook the power of networking in a job search.  Just by coming into contact with new people, they might connect with someone who knows a person who works in their field, such as a relative, friend, or neighbor."

– Lisa Heflin, SAIC-Frederick

"As people grow in their career, the skills and competencies that they have are givens – they learn that in school or on the job.  What becomes more important are the behaviors that surround the person, and these can be learned in any job whether seasonal or short-term, whether paid or volunteer.  Behaviors like being able to work well with others, to truly listen to others, to communicate in a gracious fashion, to demonstrate leadership and creative problem solving, to provide feedback to others and to receive feedback from others.  People who possess these behaviors, combined with their technical or functional skills are the kind of people that we want to hire.  Think about these aspects in all work you do and consider how to frame them in a way to demonstrate value to your future employer."

– Nikki Moberly, Cisco Systems

"Both seasonal and/or volunteer work can open doors for opportunity because you never know who you may be introduced to while working/volunteering.  In addition, when you immerse yourself into an environment that may be somewhat different than what you are used to, it will broaden your social and communication skills.  Some people also find that the seasonal/volunteer work they are doing is actually better suited for them, so it opens their eyes to other career avenues that they may not have considered otherwise."   

– Lisa Mulks, Frederick County Bank

"We all see the benefits of volunteering in the community and the doors it can open for you.   It also shows a prospective employer your drive and determination to continue working even if not in your direct field, but as an opportunity to grow in other areas."  

– Rose Davis, Canam Steel