University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FCS7239

Managing in Tough Times: Building Your Assets by Volunteering and Networking1

Selena Garrison, Michael S. Gutter, and Lynda Spence2

When we face difficult economic times as an individual or as a family, it is easy to get caught up in stress and uncertainty. It can also be difficult to see the "light at the end of the tunnel" or to focus on opportunities for success throughout the process. When hours are cut back, there is job insecurity, or job loss altogether; then changes must be made. Throughout uncertain economic times, it is important to utilize resources. Two often overlooked resources include opportunities for networking and volunteerism. These resources can be a major catalyst in finding a job, as well as an alternative source of income, and even a strong networking support system. Through networking and volunteerism opportunities new people are met, job skills fostered, and you market yourself to your community and potential employers.

Exploring Your Volunteering Resources

Keep in mind that networking and volunteering may be accomplished together at the same time. Through volunteering, you can build a network of friends, coworkers, and potential employers, all the while learning job skills and giving back to the community. It is important to consider your skills, your abilities, the goals that you would like to achieve through volunteering, as well as the potential volunteer sites in your community.

Considering Your Skills and Abilities

"Think outside the box." Even if you have very little work history, you may have learned very important employment skills through previous volunteering or taking care of your family (i.e., time management, conflict resolution, organizational skills, money management, etc.). Use Table 1 to help organize your skills and abilities.

Table 1. 

Organize your skills and abilities

Educational background

Example: I have a bachelor's degree.

Additional certifications or designations

Example: I am certified in CPR.

Previous work and/or volunteer history

Example: I worked in retail and volunteered in my nursery.

Special skills through previous work/volunteer experiences

Example: I can use various computer programs and I am good with customer relations.

Hobbies

Example: I like to sew. I like to play sports.

Volunteer interests

Example: Coaching little league. Volunteering in a local clinic.

Other:

 

Other:

 

Considering Your Goals

It is important to think of short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those that you want to happen within the next few days or weeks. Medium-term goals happen within the next few months to a year. Long-term goals happen within the next year and beyond. Writing down your goals is the important first step to achieving them. Think of personal goals, financial goals, business goals, family goals, etc. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Adaptable, Realistic, and Timely. Use Table 2 to help organize your goals.

Table 2. 

Organize your goals

Short-term goals regarding networking and volunteerism

Example: By Wednesday, I want to speak with three different potential volunteer organizations. By the first of next month, I want to begin volunteering at least 5 hours a week at one volunteer location.

Other short-term goals you have

Example: Starting next week, I want to have a family game night every Tuesday night.

Medium-term goals you have regarding networking and volunteerism

Example: In two months, I want to be volunteering at least 10 hours per week at one or more volunteer locations.

Other medium-term goals you have

Example: In six weeks, I want to have sent my resume to at least 5 potential employers.

In the next three months, I want to have secured a job as a result of my networking and volunteerism.

Long-term goals you have regarding networking and volunteerism

Example: In the next year I want to have started a savings account for a down payment on a car.

Other long-term goals you have

Example: By January of 2014, I want to have paid off the remaining $10,000 of my mortgage.

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Considering Potential Volunteer Sites

Regardless of where you live, it is likely that there is an abundance of potential organizations that you can volunteer for. Using the phone book, Internet, friends, TV, and radio can lead to some good volunteer sites. Make a list of all the potential places where you could volunteer in your community. Potential ideas include:

  • Schools

  • Summer camps

  • Religious organizations

  • After-school programs

  • Sports programs

  • Nonprofit organizations

  • Community agencies

  • Tutoring

  • Animal shelters

  • Hospitals

  • Offices of professions in which you are interested

  • Youth organizations (Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc.)

  • Humane Society

There are many options. Remember to think outside the box finding all potential places to volunteer. Next, rank them in order of interest to you. Use Table 3 to help you organize your thoughts about your top five sites of interest.

Table 3. 

Organize your prospects

Example Site

Details

Name:

XYZ Animal Shelter

Phone Number:

(555) 555-5555

Location:

Smalltown, FL

What do they do?

Take in abandoned pets and find them homes.

What skills do you have that they need?

I love working with animals. One of my hobbies is learning about dog breeds. I have a passion for helping animals.

How will volunteering here benefit you?

I will learn how an animal shelter works. I will learn more about dogs, cats, and other pets. I will feel good about helping animals. I will learn how to do the adoption paperwork. I will learn office skills. I will be able to work with customers.

Site One

 

Name:

 

Phone Number:

 

Location:

 

What do they do?

 

What skills do you have that they need?

 

How will volunteering here benefit you?

 

Site Two

 

Name:

 

Phone Number:

 

Location:

 

What do they do?

 

What skills do you have that they need?

 

How will volunteering here benefit you?

 

Site Three

 

Name:

 

Phone Number:

 

Location:

 

What do they do?

 

What skills do you have that they need?

 

How will volunteering here benefit you?

 

Figure 2. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Exploring Your Networking Resources

Many online resources are available for networking purposes. Through online networking, you can find old and new friends, search for potential employers, post your resume and credentials, and open up a new world of personal and career opportunities. Many free services are available to you. Table 4 will give you a few examples.

Table 4. 

Job boards and other services

Social Networking — These sites are used primarily to keep in contact with friends.

Facebook

www.facebook.com

Facebook is a widely used social networking site used to stay in touch with friends, as well as upload and share photos, links, and videos.

MySpace

www.myspace.com

MySpace is similar to Facebook, but allows a direct link to your page (ex., www.myspace.com/YourName) and more customizable backgrounds and page layouts. As with Facebook, MySpace allows you to upload and share photos, links, and videos.

Professional Networking — These sites are used primarily to showcase your professional credentials.

LinkedIn

www.linkedin.com

LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals in various fields. It allows you to create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form a network by inviting colleagues and friends to connect to you. You can also use the "Jobs" tab at the top of your LinkedIn page to search for jobs in your network.

Job Boards — These sites are used to find potential jobs and apply for them.

Google Job Search

The Google Job Search Engine allows you to search for jobs by specific categories and also gives you a list of other job boards to search.

Monster.com

www.monster.com

This site connects job seekers with employers who are looking for employees. You can search jobs by job title, keyword and location (Example: Nurse, Orlando, FL) and apply for them directly through the site after creating a free account.

GreenBiz.com

http://jobs.greenbiz.com/

GreenBiz.com focuses on jobs related to green, clean technology, and sustainable business practices. Through this site, you are able to browse available "green" jobs and apply for them online.

ConstructionJobs.com

www.constructionjobs.com

ConstructionJobs.com is a job board and resume database built exclusively for the construction, design, and building industries. The site provides targeted searches by region, specific industry, job title, education, and experience.

Education America

www.educationamerica.net

This site is a network specifically for the field of education. Users are able to find information and employment opportunities in specific locations and areas of expertise. After creating an account, you are able to upload up to 3 resumes, upload cover letters, transcripts, certification information and other application documents, and apply online for jobs.

USAJOBS

www.usajobs.gov

USAJOBS is the official job site of the United States government. This site offers information on federal jobs and employment. You are able to search jobs by agency, location, and occupation, and apply for them directly online.

These are just a sample of the online resources available to you! The list of job boards is almost endless, and by using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., you are bound to find a job board or networking site that meets your needs. As you find jobs that interest you, it is important to keep track of them. Use Table 5 to help!

Table 5. 

Track your job interests

Job 1

Company Name:

 

Job Title:

 

Salary/Hourly Wage:

 

Brief Job Description:

 

Where did you find this job?

*List website, ad, etc.

 

How to apply:

 

Contact Information:

 

Date applied:

 

Results of application:

 

Job 2

Company Name:

 

Job Title:

 

Salary/Hourly Wage:

 

Brief Job Description:

 

Where did you find this job?

*List website, ad, etc.

 

How to apply:

 

Contact Information:

 

Date applied:

 

Results of application:

 

Job 3

Company Name:

 

Job Title:

 

Salary/Hourly Wage:

 

Brief Job Description:

 

Where did you find this job?

*List website, ad, etc.

 

How to apply:

 

Contact Information:

 

Date applied:

 

Results of application:

 

Conclusion

During tough times and job loss, it is important to explore all available opportunities for networking. Be proactive and persistent as you pursue a network through volunteer opportunities, other person-to-person efforts, or through the Internet—you will not only expand your job opportunities, but you will also gain confidence and momentum because you are approaching your situation proactively. After all, a good offense is the best defense.

For more information on how to manage in tough times, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://solutionsforyourlife.com/families_and_consumers/money_matters/managing_in_tough_times.html.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS7239, one in a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Publication date: October 2009. Latest revision: July 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Selena Garrison, graduate student; Michael S. Gutter, associate professor and family financial management specialist; Lynda Spence, UF/IFAS Extension agent, UF/IFAS Extension Marion County; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products/services named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products/services of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.