The Big Question

“May I help you?”

It’s a familiar and welcomed inquiry virtually all of us hear in a retail environment. What many people don’t stop to realize is that turning that question around can be a useful tool in your job search.

During your job search, there’s a lot going on: you probably have some time on your hands; you may need to update or maintain certain skills; you probably need to broaden your personal networks; and you need to demonstrate to any potential employers that you’re using your time wisely. All good points.

Fortunately, you can meet all those needs at once. You can accomplish that by volunteering at a local non-profit organization. Think about it. There isn’t a non-profit organization on the planet that couldn’t use one more body. Pick a cause – preferably one with which you can identify or feel strongly about – and offer your services.

You will be doing something worthwhile to help someone else. You’ll be working regularly. You’ll be meeting new people. You’ll be keeping your skills current. And you will be getting out of the house – in a purposeful manner. Who knows? You could even work your way into a paying position there.

There are two caveats however. One, be certain that they will assign you mostly meaningful work. Face it, stuffing envelopes all day is not the best use of your time. Two, learn how to say “no.” Non-profit organizations can be like quicksand. If you let them, they will keep pulling you in until you find yourself working for them full time – for free. If you let them.

Neither scenario is in your best interest.

There is another aspect of asking for help for you to consider. Don’t be shy about asking people – regardless of your connection – for help with your job search. You may be surprised at how willing some people are to assist.

Whether it’s knowing of any opportunities, or asking them to keep their eyes and ears open on your behalf, or asking for a connection at a potential employer, or seeking a referral to a good recruiter, among most people there is a natural desire to want to help… if you ask.


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