Whether you are currently unemployed, newly laid off, a recent graduate, or just a dissatisfied employee looking to move up in the ranks, there are quite a few reasons to find volunteer jobs:
Develop new skills marketable in your field.
Demonstrate a solid work ethic while temporarily out of the workforce.
Advance your knowledge of new areas within your field.
Meet new people in a company or industry in which you are interested in working.
Contribute to your community and help others less fortunate.
For some fields you can take courses or return to college part-time to develop marketable skills that will make you more attractive for promotions, but in many fields you need to come by additional skills in your own creative ways. Also, it is much easier to find a job after leaving the workforce to raise children or do other things if you have something productive to show for your time.
Once you realize how volunteering can get you ahead, it's time to think about how to find volunteer jobs in your local area. Even if your goal is to develop some new skills or learn about a new aspect of your field or a new career option entirely, you have to think about what skills you already possess that may be of use to someone else. After all, volunteering means you are giving up your own time and knowledge to help someone else, even if it could potentially help you in return.
Start by contacting the United Way as well as any thrift store operation in your area, such as Goodwill. You may also have other social organizations operating in your area that may be able to steer you in the direction of local businesses or organizations in need of help. You aren't looking exclusively for organizations that have a direct tie to your career field. Keep an open mind, you never know what you will find.
Next, start thinking about businesses that cater to the elderly or children in your area. Go to nursing homes, day cares, and even visit your city government to see if they need help through the parks & recreation or other community oriented programs. If you have some type of creative or crafty skills, you could be put to work instructing classes or helping with community events.
Finally, contact local churches who operate food pantries, soup kitchens, or homeless shelters. They are always in need of help and can make use of practically any type of knowledge or skill you possess.
Not every volunteer job you come by is going to be a direct tie-in to your career field of choice, but if you are able to use your skills or even pick up new ones it is worth your time. Also, if you are unemployed or out of the workforce for a long period of time by choice, it is to your advantage to use volunteer jobs to show your willingness and ability to work.