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Giving Back While Searching for Work

by ​Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn

In times of unemployment job seekers can become fixated on finding a job as soon as possible. That seems like the most logical response to unemployment, but is it really? Job seekers can find themselves spending hours at the computer on job search sites, scouring LinkedIn and aimlessly connecting with anyone willing to accept an invite or touring the business and industrial areas of the city looking for the “We’re Hiring” signs. These tasks can be very isolating and disheartening. How productive was that time? If you don’t get any phone calls for interviews, then the answer is clear.

The truth is: a job search does take time, and it can last a few weeks and sometimes up to a year or so to find the right job. Taking the first job offer that comes up is not always the best choice, especially if doesn’t meet your ideals or goals? So how can we avoid getting caught in this daily cycle, doing the same thing day in and day out, with little to show for it?

First, when job searching it’s wise to create a schedule or action plan so you can see how your week will look, how to prepare for it and then check off the tasks as you complete them. You can find time to fit in formal job searching, resume writing and cover letter writing, and getting out of the house to take on other challenges during the week.

And second, consider looking beyond the job boards for some new opportunities to get your name out there. Consider giving back to your community. Giving back doesn’t have to mean giving money to a particular cause, especially when you are looking for work and money is already tight. “Giving back” can mean volunteering a few hours a week for a short period of time or it can mean committing to a year or more. You could choose to apply to sit on a board of directors, which could be for a large charitable organization or your community co-op board. You could join a child’s school Parent Teacher Association. You could coach a team. You could tutor. You could design a website. You could help a child with special needs learn to swim. You name it. The choice is yours.

Think about what types of skills you have, the causes that matter to you and seek volunteer opportunities requiring your skill set and where you feel you can help make a difference. Giving back throughout the year, especially when you have a bit of time while looking for work, will help you keep the skills that you are good at, but also allow you to learn new skills and make some new, easy network connections along the way.

There are many important causes to consider giving back to, which can include: Children, Economic Empowerment, Education, Health, Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, Social Services and others.

To search for volunteer opportunities visit:

You can also go directly to organizations’ websites and search their volunteer opportunities. So consider taking some time out of your job search and have some fun researching and finding a cause that’s just waiting for a person like you to help them out!