Ok. So you’re an unemployed military spouse, in a town you’re unfamiliar with, with no personal connections to the locals and you’re looking for that next job. What to do? My solution is simple. Get to volunteering!
That’s right. Military spouses have a slight disadvantage maintaining a career through PCS’s and frequent moves. But that is only one way to look at it…or you can see it through my eyes. We are uniquely challenged and from that we bring a wealth of knowledge, fresh ideas, new perspectives and community solutions. You are better equipped that you probably give yourself credit for. It’s time to use those skills to land your next job.
When my husband and I were first stationed in Fayetteville, NC, I thought I would land a job the only way I knew how….submit my resume to every online and newspaper posting I could find. I was easily discouraged when I started receiving rejection letters and in most cases, didn’t hear back at all.
That is when I realized that jobs were being given to those who were well connected in the community. It made sense. People on the receiving end of my emails didn’t know me. So how was I going to get to know not just the people in the community, but the right people?
I got out from behind my computer screen and jumped in my car and headed downtown. I wanted to find a local organization that produced big events and needed extra volunteers. I walked inside The Arts Council and met with the volunteer coordinator. I signed up to hand out refreshments at the arts exhibitions. I made some very basic business cards that had my name, number, email, job interests and that I needed a job. Call it desperate, but that is what I call ‘old fashioned networking.’ Each attendee received a brownie and a business card.
Then I started volunteering for more events. The International Folk Festival (which is taking place Sept 26-28 in Fayetteville) provided me a wonderful opportunity for meeting a huge amount of people in a short amount of time. I talked to everyone. I had perfected my ‘job pitch’. And before I knew it, a job opportunity fell into place.
In a technology driven world, sometimes you have to do what is out of the norm. I cant guarantee that this will land you a job, but what is the worst that can happen? You’ll walk away knowing new people and making new friends. And organizations will have had one more volunteer to help them out. Win-win, I say.
Find an event you would like to volunteer for
Check out your local CVB’s (convention and visitor bureaus) or organizations you care about. Every organization is in need of extra help and hands so there is no doubt you will be helping them out. And don’t just let the email be the end of it. Go to the organization and ask to speak with someone. Start connecting!
If you are shy or have never volunteered before, go in pairs!
Take a friend to volunteer with you who is in the same boat as you. You will both be able to hold each other accountable to do all you can in those moments that matter to find a job. Just make sure that you don’t chit-chat with each other. Devise a plan to meet up half way through the event but make it a priority to meet new people.
Perfect your pitch before you volunteer
Have a quick pitch memorized and practice, practice, practice to make it sound natural. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Need help perfecting your pitch? Check out Alana Le’s page or join Power Hour.
A pitch doesn’t just have to be a verbal one. Have something printed that you can quickly give away. You don’t have to hand it to every person you know and you certainly don’t have to put all of your personal information on there. But I suggest having something printed that looks even slightly professional.
HAVE FUN AND SMILE!
Let your true personality shine. People will gravitate toward you if you are having a good time and are pleasant to be around. Make an effort, even if you’re having a bad time, to find the best part of it. And smile. Trust me. You are doing something that will help everyone and that is something to definitely smile about.
You will probably talk to someone that interests you. Get their business card, email or phone number and FOLLOW UP! Don’t wait too long. Make sure you mention where you met and what you both talked about. Let them know you’re looking for a job, and in what field and that you’d like to meet up. Chances are they know someone who can help you out.
Need help finding an event or simply want some advice on maximizing your volunteer time? Contact me or visit my website at http://soniargarza.wordpress.com/.
Sending you sunshine,