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By Kibet Tobias
Have you been trying to get a job for a while now and have applied for so many jobs without an interview invitations?
Maybe you have attended several interviews but none of them ever turned into a job offer.
I know the current job market is so competitive that sometimes you may wonder if you are on the right career you are just doing something wrong.
Good news is you are not alone. Trust me, I have been there before and you are lucky that you are reading this article now because you will get to learn how I handled my difficult job search.
Just after I graduated from the University, I didn’t have an idea of where to get a job. I spent most of my time and resources applying for jobs online for two years but all in vain. Sometimes I would walkinto offices seeking opportunities but no job came.
At this point, I decided to change tactics and instead of applying for jobs that needed experience, I narrowed down to internships and volunteering only.
Luckily, I got an opportunity to volunteer at a certain NGO. Working with them for six months completely changed the course of my career. I moved from being a volunteer to a communication assistant.
And here’s why I would recommend volunteering or taking on internships – paid or unpaid if you want to kick-start your career.
1. Volunteering helped me to expand my network effectively
By now you have realized that getting a job is all about networking.
Volunteering helped me to gain access to several professionals in my relevant field who were able to mentor me. If not for this position, I would not have otherwise met them.
Having such beneficial contacts creates opportunities for you to develop positive relationships outside the work environment. Not only will they hire you but could also refer you to others with job openings.
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2. I was able to acquire new skills
As a volunteer, I was able to develop my skill set.  Things that I had not learned in class came in handy. Initially, I didn’t know what ‘Teamwork’ was like in a work environment. With this opportunity, I was able to learn how things work. I developed my IT skills, communication skills, and confidence.
This happened through the training that the organization offered to its staff. I still remember the Public speaking training that greatly transformed my career.
3. I gained experience that I wouldn’t have gotten staying at home
A lot of employers today are looking to hire candidates who are already tried and tested, meaning that they have some experience under their sleeves. How do you get that experience if you are just a fresh graduate? You can either chose to volunteer or apply for an internship.
Being a volunteer for six months was a great deal for me. With that I was able to boost my CV even though it was with just six months of volunteering but I must say that this helped me stand out when I was looking for my next job.
4. Sometimes you may end up being employed on full time
I know you may not also want to work for free because, in the end, you have bills to pay. But do you know that there are so many people who started working as volunteers and later got employed in the same company?
It is important to know that once you show your abilities to the potential employer, then you can be easily considered. As a volunteer you become a potential candidate for a full-time position that may arise in the same company.
And this is how I got my first job in the same organization I volunteered at. I had been trained by the employer and I think the company was not ready to let me go. After all, which employer wants to keep spending resources in training new candidates every time?
In conclusion…
Instead of sitting at home and waiting to get a job, it is time you start looking for ways you can keep busy. Sometimes that experience you gain is far more valuable than sitting around waiting for someone to pay you for your services. Sometimes you have to prove your worth for an employer to spend money on you.
If you have been looking for a job for a long time now, it’s time to change tactics like I did. I was there, managed to get out of that situation and so can you too.
Tobias is a Content Writer at Career Point Kenya. Got any leadership related queries? Email them to tobias@careerpointkenya.co.ke or leave a comment below.