The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous , and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact in ation is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I have a question for you about getting a job with an organization that I really like. I had several interviews with a not-for-profit organization, but they decided to hire someone else. I was wondering if volunteering with the organization would put me in a good position to get a paying job with them, as they could see I was dedicated to their mission. Or would they just see me as another volunteer -- and never hire me? Thank you for your advice and your time!


Dear Tracy:

No. I would not volunteer. But I might call the person in charge of hiring and say that you really like the organization and would like to work for them, so if there is another similar opening, you would be happy to come in and work temporarily to show that you would be a good fit. Note that I said work temporarily, not for free.

Corporations and non-profits often hire temps and then offer permanent jobs to the people they want to keep. Occasionally organizations will ask that you try out a job at no pay. But offering -- or even agreeing -- to work for free gets tricky. Here are three factors to consider:

1. You shouldn't seem desperate. Interviewers like applicants who are enthusiastic, but are turned off by desperation, so if you are interviewing for a good job and the employer seems to be hesitating about giving you the offer, you could say something like, "This job sounds just right for me. Would you like to set up a trial period where I could come in for a couple weeks to see if it is a good fit?" But you would not mention working for free.

2. If you are asked to volunteer, only agree to a time limited period. Suggest that you come in for two weeks, for example. This will keep them from, as you said, seeing you as another volunteer that they can string along and never hire.

3. Make sure you can do the job with little training or supervision. New hires always need some orientation and time to learn the ropes. But if you are going to work for a trial period (for free or not), you goal is to show them how well you can do the job. If you need a lot of supervision or make a lot of mistakes, you will probably have wasted your time.

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.

For more in ation go to