Can volunteering opportunities improve your career?
In the coming months, we may potentially see more candidates enter the job market as they start to look for new jobs for a variety of reasons including redundancy. We’ve previously blogged about how candidates can use time at home to improve their skills, but another way that candidates can set themselves apart is through volunteering opportunities.
The UK is a nation of caring people who are willing to donate time and resources to others.
When the NHS called for an army of volunteers to help them support those in vulnerable groups, over 750,000 people pledged their support – triple the governments’ initial target! We believe that those candidates who were part of this volunteering community should reference this within their CV. Over the past few months, the way that we view the world has changed and moving forward, both candidates and employers may be looking specifically for those who made a difference to help others during their time of need.
With that in mind, there are many ways that you can make the most of volunteering opportunities to enhance your career prospects.
Let us take a look.
Volunteering can…build new skills outside of the workplace
We know that it is important to continually build new skills, but candidates should consider that volunteering opportunities could help you to develop new attributes which could be beneficial within the workplace.
For example, if a candidate volunteers as a special constable or is actively participating within a school governor role, they may be picking up tangible leadership or project management skills that could be used in a work setting. The ability to lead, influence, develop, and mentor other colleagues is valued highly by employers.
Volunteering roles such as working with Girl Guide or Scout groups could also allow you to develop new skills – for example, many badges now focus on areas such as coding and sign language. For candidates working in marketing or HR roles, having these skills could be highly advantageous. Candidates could use the basic understanding they have picked up through their voluntary role and showcase to their employer why it is beneficial, thereby, introducing a business case for investment into further extensive training.
Volunteering can…help you make new connections
Another key facet of involvement in community volunteering opportunities is that they can help candidates to maximise the impact of their networking and help them make new connections.
Candidates may find that if they volunteer for professional groups (perhaps their regional CIPR or CIM committee) they could build greater professional contacts that could aid their future career plans.
Volunteering can…show your personality
During interviews, employers are not just looking to establish candidates’ specific skills; they also want to learn about that person’s personality to determine if they would make a strong cultural fit.
Sharing details of any volunteering work can help to enhance this impression. Not only could they be able to learn more about a candidate’s personal interests and hobbies, but they can see what type of person they may be. For example, if a candidate volunteers as a fundraiser for a local charity, it stands to reason that they may have strong project management skills and can work well as part of a team. If they have volunteered to help care for vulnerable people in a care home or hospice, it shows that they may be empathetic and can work well independently.
Candidates should always reference their volunteering expertise within their CV. As part of their interview preparation, our team can work with candidates to help them identify how they can use their volunteering experience to showcase their personality and their skills.
Volunteering can…fill in employment gaps
Volunteering can be a great way to fill in any lengthy employment gaps. There may be occasions where candidates have experienced a long period of unemployment, if this is the case, making the most of volunteering can showcase how a candidate has used their time and maintained their skills.
Volunteering can also provide unique ways to break into new areas of expertise. For example, if a candidate is keen to break into a marketing or PR role, they could use volunteering to help them gain experience and try something new. Many local clubs and community settings will actively seek voluntary support so it could give candidates a chance to build their contacts and try new initiatives outside of the workplace.
Finally, volunteering is also a confidence builder. We previously discussed the emotional impact of redundancy, and a key part of this could be a loss of confidence. For those who have taken some employment knocks, volunteering can remind candidates of their skills and capabilities. It can help them to remember why they chose to train in their chosen field of expertise and help set them apart from other candidates.