Think you can't turn volunteer work into a paying job? Think again.
It takes a combination of timing, hard work and patience.
Volunteering isn’t just a way to give back to your community and make yourself feel good, a regular volunteering gig can sometimes turn into paying work. According to “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.
Moving from a volunteer position to paid work can be an easy transition, says Lynn Berger, career counselor. If you’ve shown you’re a good fit and have the skills the organization needs, the rest is just details. “You eliminate many pieces of uncertainty because you already know the people and routine of the organization.”
Here’s what you need to know about turning a volunteer role into a paid position.
Finding relevant volunteer work
Looking for volunteer work can be a little different than searching out a paid position. “Whether your goal is to become a baker or portfolio manager, free help is always welcome,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.”
“But even volunteering requires you to have a logical story to justify why you are willing to work for free and how your ‘employer’ will stand to benefit,” he explains. Approaching your volunteer gig with this in mind will help you justify the switch to paid employment if the opportunity arises.
You need to feel confident about your ability to hit the ground running and add value before you make the case for paid work, says Cohen. “But on a more practical basis, you deserve to get paid when you test drive the market and your newly enhanced resume generates interest. By adding the right talking points to your resume, you are proving that your volunteer experience can be monetized.”
Making the case for a paid role
If you land a volunteer gig and you’re interested in turning it into a paid position, look at the volunteer work as a long interview process. Resume Deli CEO Joe Terach recommends negotiating your volunteer position as if it were a paid opportunity. Six months in, you should have earned enough relevant experience and gotten enough exposure to the organization and its goals that others consider you a valuable resource worthy of a paid role, he says. “Once you've accumulated significant hands-on experience, don't just ask to be hired. Create and deliver a powerful proposal that supports your goal.”
To make your case, the proposal should clearly communicate what you want while also addressing the organization’s needs head-on, Terach says. “Your reader should get a crystal-clear picture of how you’ll be spending your time once hired; what it will cost them to bring you on board (in terms of resource and time allocation, physical space and stipend, if any); and what you hope to accomplish that will help solve a particular problem or take advantage of an untapped opportunity.”