Engaging and Supporting Job Seekers as Volunteers

This MAVA initiative provides tools and resources for leaders of volunteers on engaging and supporting job seekers as volunteers.  Job seekers are one of the fastest growing new groups of volunteers.  Job seekers are one of the fastest growing new groups of volunteers. For job seekers, volunteering offers critical opportunities to keep skills current, build new skills, fill in gaps in resumes, obtain a current reference and gain self confidence.  While many job seekers fit easily into regular volunteer opportunities, their time availability and motivation can be different enough to require adaptations by organizations to create a “win win” for both the organization and volunteer.

Promising Practices for Engaging Job Seekers as Volunteers

1.    Assess your readiness to engage job seekers as volunteers.

2.    Be prepared to present a case statement of the value the extra volunteer power will bring. Expect that everyone in the organization might not be enthusiastic about involving job seekers as volunteers. 

3.    Understand the varied motivations of job seekers for volunteering and the expectations of workforce centers, schools and organizations that refer job seekers for volunteering.

4.    In designing how job seekers are involved as volunteers, build in strategies to address the main challenge of job seekers as volunteers at all steps of the process – their time availability may change suddenly if they find employment.

5.    Develop recruitment messages that appeal to the motivation of job seekers for volunteering.  Develop partnerships with workforce centers, schools and other organizations that support job seekers in finding employment.

6.    When interviewing job seekers for volunteering, offer a formal interview to assist with gaining interview experience. Ask questions on their motivation for volunteering to better understand their expectations.

7.    The “win win” for the organization and volunteer happens when there is truly a good fit of the volunteer in the position.

8.    Be ready to offer extra support to meet expectations of the volunteer or referring organization.

9.    Be ready to provide recommendations on the work done and to refer the job seekers to the tools developed by MAVA on how to put the volunteer work on a resume and discuss in an interview.

Thank You to...

Initiative Foundation for funding for the initiative in Central Minnesota

MAVA VISTA members Nicole Burg and Danielle Schminkey for developing tools and resources

Central Minnesota Advisory Task Force

  • Alison Dahlin, St. Cloud Hospital
  • Julie Guth, Mid-Minnesota Women's Center
  • Sue Hilgart, Rural MN Concentrated Employment Program (CEP), Inc
  • Linda Johnson, Unity Family Healthcare
  • Beth Knutson-Kolodzne, St. Cloud State University
  • Mary Krippner, United Way of Central Minnesota
  • Monique Mendyke, RSVP, Volunteers of America of MN
  • Beth Nelson, Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Gregory Reigstad, TRiO, St. Cloud Technical and Community College
  • Angela B. Theisen, Tri-County Action Program, Inc
  • Renee Wittenberg, Experience Works

Metro Advisors

  • Heather Cox, Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Adam Faitek, Accountability
  • Lee George, Brain Injury Association
  • Janet Grove, The Basilica of Saint Mary
  • Jay Haapala, Minnesota Children Museum
  • Ben Reed, Children’s Hospital
  • Barb Tiggemann, DARTS

Volunteer Bridge in Elk River for a focus group input