The cardinal rule for job hunting is that real, live human contact helps make a successful search instead of just sitting at your computer.
Here's affirmation: Analysis of 10 years of Census data found that volunteers have a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who don't volunteer.
In other words, giving your time for free appears to increase your chances of meeting people or finding opportunities for a paycheck.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, conducted the study. It found a positive relationship between volunteering and landing a job regardless of a person's sex, age, ethnicity, geographic area or job market conditions.
"Volunteering can help job seekers develop skills and expand professional contacts, creating a positive impression that can make a big difference in a competitive job market," said Wendy Spencer, chief executive of the agency.
There was one notable distinction in the report's across-the-board conclusions: The relationship between volunteering and job-finding success was strongest for people who lacked a high school diploma or for people who lived in rural areas.
For job hunters with limited skills or limited social connections, volunteering may be a route "to open doors and level the playing field," said Chris Spera, the agency's research director.
When I visited recently with job hunters at a Kansas City area job club, the convener emphasized the importance of volunteering, not just because it creates new contacts. He noted the morale value, too.
It can get pretty depressing sitting at home, sending out resumes and filling out online applications with no response. Getting out and doing something worthwhile can help you feel less bad about yourself and more useful in service to others.