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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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The Secrets to Turning Your Volunteer Job into Paid Work for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

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Have you heeded the insights of The Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job-Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired? Did you Find a Volunteer Position that Is a Good Match for You?

Good.

Now you're volunteering and you like the people, you like the work, you like the cause. Wonderful. Have you considered the possibility of turning your volunteer work into paid work? The good news is that you're already in the door. If you are demonstrating positive work habits and good communication skills, your co-workers value you. They may, however, feel quite content keeping you as a volunteer as long as you're content as a volunteer…but what if you could, as Chef Emeril Lagasse says, kick it up a notch—your responsibilities and pay, that is. If your bills require more than volunteer work, and I'm sure they do, read on.

How to turn your volunteer job into paid work:

  • Get to know the people who make up the organization. All the people. Introduce yourself, ask about their roles within the company, how they're doing, etc. Write the information down after meeting people. Follow up. You want to build relationships and loyalty.
  • Pay attention to the culture of the organization. Do what you have to do (within reason and morality, of course) to fit in with the culture. The group goes for coffee on the weekend? Learn to like coffee. The people never use curse words? Don't use curse words. Value what the employer and employees value. It'll be like you were made to work there.
  • Know the company inside and out. Know their goals, policies, and procedures. Adopt their goals, policies, and procedures. You will be an asset to the team.
  • Recognize problems and gaps within the agency. I'm not suggesting you verbally tear down the team. Oh no! Instead, quietly figure out how you can be a solution to the problem and fill the gap. It may take learning new skills and seeking new experiences.

Be bold. Confidently and respectfully approach the appropriate team leader. Let him or her know you recognize a gap within the organization and explain how you can be the solution. Find out if a position can be created for you. If it cannot, continue your job search outside of the agency, and update your resume with the skills, training, and experience you received from the volunteer position.

Alternatively, perhaps the employer already recognized the organization's gap and is seeking to hire an individual for a new or replacement position. Review the job description. Figure out how your soft skills (integrity, commitment, patience, loyalty, work ethic, friendliness, teamwork, etc.) and hard skills (education, relevant experience, foreign language, accounting, typing proficiency, etc.) will be an ideal fit for the job. Apply for the position and write a fabulous cover letter. If you've proven yourself through volunteering and you can sell yourself as the solution to the company gap/ vacancy—I can see paid work in your near future.


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