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You’re an [HR] Volunteer. Now what?

volunteerIt’s almost the end of the year and you’ve made the commitment to volunteer for your local HR association in 2012. Perhaps you agreed to be on a committee or you’ve taken the plunge and (gulp) you’re going to be a board member. Either one can be extremely rewarding – not only for the chapter, but for your own personal and professional growth.

But let’s face it – if you’ve never volunteered for your local chapter (whether you are a newbie or long time member) it can be a little intimidating. Just keep in mind that they need YOU; they need your enthusiasm AND your fresh ideas. Trust me on that.

But how do you get the most out of your volunteer experience? Here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure you understand what’s expected of you – if you’ve already talked with the President or Committee Chair; attended the planning meeting for the New Year, and you still don’t know what they want you to do, get clarification NOW. No one will think you’re stupid.
  • Don’t make commitments you can’t keep – everyone gets busy, and yes your paid job and family take priority, but your association needs you to do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t become “that guy” (or girl) who is always falling behind. Volunteering is a great way to develop (or ruin) your personal brand.
  • If you’re falling behind speak up – everyone has unexpected issues that come up, and if you give them the proper heads up, the committee chair or President of the association can jump in and find you a helping hand without it becoming a big deal.
  • Don’t allow others to mistreat you – when you volunteer it’s supposed to be fun and rewarding – not miserable. If you feel someone is behaving inappropriately, politely remind the offender (in private) that you’d appreciate being treated as a professional.  Sometimes people who get a bit over-zealous in their role need a gentle reminder. Staying silent makes matters worse.
  • Share your ideas – you probably have a lot of them. Every association needs new ideas to continue to grow and develop their membership. If you ever griped about the organization or its leaders – now is your chance to make a difference.
  • Don’t be in it to sell – if you’re an HR vendor and your sole objective is make sales in return for your hard work, forget about it – everyone will see right through you. Do it because you love the industry and you want to give back. One of my favorite quotes is “make happy those who are near and those who are far will come”.
  • Don’t make it “all work and no play” – volunteering is serious business and it can be hard work, but if you’re not having fun – why do it? I’ve made some great friends and learned a lot along the way. Keep an open mind and you will too!

Hopefully I have given you a few ideas to help make your volunteer year successful. Have a wonderful holiday and if you’re in Florida and attending the HR Florida Leadership conference, be sure to say “Hello”!

Deborah HermanDeborah is “Your Recruitment Business Partner” at DH Talent Strategies, LLC in Pompano Beach, FL. She’s a blogger at, and an HR professional with 20 plus years of director-level experience in staffing, marketing and employment communications. Deborah is also proud to serve as a District Director for HR Florida State Council.


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