When it comes to getting a job, it can be tough for ex-felons. Even though they’ve served their time, their records can follow them into the job market. Unless an employer is willing to take a chance on them, they can be unemployable.
But there may be a way to increase their odds of getting hired. Through volunteering.
Volunteering Improves Skills
Volunteering can help ex-felons improve the skills they have and develop new skills. Volunteers have the opportunity to practice the skills they have and try new things usually in a low-pressure environment. Employers are never going to pass on hiring someone just because they know too many things.
Volunteering Helps You Meet New People
It seems like everyone knows a guy who knows a guy who might have a job opening. That’s great in theory, but sometimes that circle of friends gets exhausted pretty quickly.
Volunteering is a great way to get out there and meet a whole new circle of friends and that new connection may just lead to a new job.
Volunteering Offers Proof Through Hard Work
For ex-felons especially, it can be difficult to prove to a potential employer that they are worth the risk. However, through volunteering, an ex-felon has the opportunity to prove that he or she is reliable, respectful, and hard-working. When an employer sees this, he or she is much more likely to take a chance and offer a paid position.
As the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.
The Psychological Benefit of Volunteering
Don’t underestimate the psychological benefit of volunteering. It can be mentally trying to hear rejection after rejection. Studies have shown that volunteering helps lift spirits and make people feel needed.
According to HelpGuide.org, volunteering helps you counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. It helps you combat depression; it increases your self-confidence and your sense of purpose.
Volunteering Helps Prevent Recidivism
Along with the mental health aspect of volunteering, there’s also another positive that comes out of it. According to the site Good Hire, volunteering curbs criminal thinking. “When a former offender understands the concept of ‘giving back’ through volunteering, that goes a very long way towards changing negative thought patterns,” the site says.
Tips for Volunteering
Volunteering isn’t just something to do. Like a job search, ex-felons should put thought into where they want to volunteer and why. Here are some tips for ex-felons considering the volunteer route.
- Choose a volunteer opportunity that interests you. You’re far more likely to work hard and give your best effort if you like or believe in what you’re doing.
- Treat your volunteer work like paid work. Show up on time, pay attention, and stay off your phone. Show your managers and anyone else who sees you what it would be like to work with you if you were paid for your work.
- Use your skills and knowledge. Think of this as a long, drawn-out job interview. You want to impress. If you have a skill that can impress, use it.