It’s time to shift our way of thinking and extend our expertise beyond PTA or choosing to volunteer only during Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Aligning yourself and your skills with organizations designed to make a difference can be a professional strategy, especially for those looking to return to the workforce after an extended absence.

Strategic volunteering is a way to keep your professional goals on track.  A well thought out strategy can help you update your skills, gain new skills, and grow your network. Here are a couple of things to get you started on using this technique as a career move.

Take an Inventory

Take some time and think about the skill set you want to enhance or become familiar with. Identifying the skill set will allow you to take a personal assessment of where you want to go and grow. This will also help you narrow down possible organizations.

Your Short List

Do your research and come up with a list of organizations that could utilize your skills.  Ideally, this list will include organizations whose mission you have a genuine interest in.  Websites are a great place to start, but most non-profits have volunteer managers so take the extra time to make a phone call, send an email or, stop by to gain information about their volunteer program and needs.  Ask about volunteer orientations and/or the possibility of setting up an informational interview.  This will give you a better idea of the overall culture to ensure it is a good fit for you.

Work It

Make a commitment and work it like you’re getting paid to do it!  You never know who’s watching or where these opportunities will lead.  We found this book for those who want additional action steps on strategic volunteering.  The MAP Agency will also be highlighting local nonprofits to help you in your search for the perfect opportunity to bring added value to both your life and your resume!