The Underrated Way for Career Changers to Get Experience in Their New Field

I knew switching careers—transitioning from sales to recruiting—was going to be challenging, considering I had zero recruiting experience. But I wanted to make it happen. So, I could either start just applying for roles, hoping my transferable skills would be enough, or I could seek out experience that would make me a competitive candidate first.

I went with the second option and began exploring volunteer roles that would allow me to develop my recruiting skill set. While I’ve always been a proponent of community action and had offered up my time throughout my life here or there, I’d never before thought about how it could change my career path.

This time around, I did. I ended up at Friends of Refugees, an organization that assists refugees in finding work. It not only offered the exact experience I needed to get, but it also gave me a chance to see if I actually liked recruiting. (I did!)

For me, volunteering’s been the gift that keeps on giving. It reduced stress in my life at a time when I was struggling to make a change, and it provided me with an enhanced sense of purpose—all while enabling me to grow and expand upon my professional skills, build my network, and get my resume ready for a major transition.

If you’re also looking to change industries, don’t overlook the benefits of volunteering.

Volunteering Builds Hands-on Experience

Anyone aiming to change careers has a tough road ahead. This uncharted territory will likely require skills that you’ve yet to develop. You can bridge the transition by opting for an opportunity that guarantees exposure and first-hand experience—and allows you to give back to the community and find purpose and meaning.

Let’s say you want to move from a career in graphic design to one in urban planning, but you don’t have any idea where to begin. Look into your local neighborhood association to see how you can contribute to projects aimed at assisting residents and businesses.

Before you worry that this unpaid experience isn’t valuable, a LinkedIn survey states that 41% of LinkedIn hiring managers consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates.