Volunteering for Fun and Employment

Editor’s note: Make It Missoula is collaborating with the Missoula Job Service to help people find local jobs so that they can move home to Missoula or continue to call Missoula home.

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By CHERY SABOL for the Missoula Job Service

Stymied in your job search? A new study suggests a powerful way to help yourself find a job is to help your community first.

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment Report” by the Corporation for National and Community Service finds a persuasive association between volunteering and finding employment.  Using data from 2002 to 2012 from CNCS, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study involved more than 70,000 people, age 16 and older, who were looking for work. What it found confirmed what many people intuitively know – hours spent with the elderly, animals, museums and such can lead to employment.

That’s true no matter what your age, gender, geographical area, ethnicity or job-market condition. Unemployed people who volunteer have a 27 percent greater likelihood of finding work, according to the study. The relationship is even stronger for people without a high-school diploma and for residents in rural areas. Those without a diploma increased their chance of employment by 51 percent merely by volunteering; people in rural areas upped their likelihood of finding work by 55 percent.


Unemployed people who volunteer have a 27 percent greater likelihood of finding work regardless of age, gender geography or ethnicity.

Naturally, volunteering is a good way to open the door to a specific organization where someone hopes to work. But more generally, it can increase a person’s social connections – the kind of networking we know is important for someone looking for a job. No matter how many job applications migrate to an on-line, impersonal process, a great many employment relationships begin when someone alerts a friend to a job opening. I can personally attest to that. Also, particularly for those without a high school education, volunteering can increase a person’s skills. Practice entering data for an organization can teach computer skills. Assisting patrons of a non-profit organization can translate into marketable customer-service skills. Any kind of volunteering can demonstrate to a prospective employer a job seeker’s valuable “soft skills” of dependability, the ability to get along with others, and the capacity to learn new activities.

That’s all good news for Missoula-area job seekers. There is no dearth of opportunities to offer help for a good cause here. The variety of organizations that rely on volunteers  makes it possible for virtually everyone to find a service that interests them and offers the satisfaction of helping someone else. Arts, the environment, education, the disadvantaged, history, fitness, youth, and social issues are just some of the topics that lend themselves to volunteer work in this area. A good place to begin researching volunteer opportunities is at the Missoula Nonprofit Network.  Here’s a list of organizations in the network.

A chance to increase the probability of finding a job, a good distraction from the frustration of a lengthy job search, and the ability to use free time in a way that  benefits the community – all good reasons to explore the many organizations that rely on committed volunteers. And while we’re talking about free services, anyone who would like help showcasing their volunteer work on their resume is welcome to visit an employment consultant at Missoula Job Service at 539 South Third West or to call at 406-728-7060.


Looking for a job in Missoula? Be sure to check out our Missoula Job Listings.  Be sure you “LIKE” the Missoula Job Service Facebook Page for daily post on job opening. You’ll also find Missoula-area information on Job Hunting ResourcesJob Hunting Tips, Job Interview Tips, tips for writing Cover Letters and Resumes.


Chery Sabol is an employment consultant at the Missoula Job Service, an organization that offers programs and services to assist employers and job seekers alike. Those looking for employment can view job openings on our job board, website, and social media outlets. Employment consultants provide résumé reviews, conduct practice interviews, and offer skills testing.

The Job Service also provides a self-service area where job seekers have access to phones, a fax machine, a copier, and computers. Our qualified staff also offers business consulting services, including employee recruitment and retention assistance. Additionally, we provide financial support for businesses looking to train both new and current employees.

We are here to help our community!