Career Tips

Volunteering – Boosting your career prospects with voluntary work

Posted: 29/03/2016

Can’t get a job? Feel like you lack experience? Well, maybe the solution to your problems is volunteering. Yep, you don’t get paid, but volunteer work ticks an impressive amount of career and personal development boxes that could open doors you’d never dreamt of.

Volunteering says a lot about you. For example, it says:

  • I have energy, enthusiasm and drive
  • Money isn’t the only thing that matters
  • I’m proactive
  • I’m prepared to increase my skill set even without pay
  • I’m prepared to get off my bottom and make a difference to my community

Looks good, doesn’t it? Volunteering can have a profoundly positive effect on your professional reputation, drastically improving your job-seeking outcomes.

“Volunteering proves to the job interview panel that you have drive”

When surveyed, 76% of career advisors state that volunteer work will drastically increase your likelihood of getting your dream job. So, not only will volunteering show that you have drive and ambition, but it will improve your skill set.

There are many benefits of volunteering.

You can find out if you like the industry
If you’re thinking of a career change and you’d like to work in a particular industry, volunteer opportunities in the organisation give you a chance to see what the industry is like. When you undertake volunteer work, you’ll discover what skills are important, if your talents are suited to the industry, and you’ll have time to sniff around and see if it’s your thing.

Find out more about yourself
Are you a loner or are you a team player? Do you handle stress well? Do you love getting your hands dirty? Or perhaps you’ll discover that you’re a born manager and love to organise events. A great way to find out when you are between jobs, or just entering the workforce is to jump right in with some voluntary work, and get involved.

It gives you hands-on experience in a new industry
Real hands-on experience is invaluable. Everyone knows that employers like experienced people. Volunteering in an organisation gives you a chance to clock up work experience and gain new skills that can’t be learned elsewhere. Generally speaking, volunteer jobs aren’t pressure-packed, so you can take the time to learn things without being overstressed. You may also be given the chance to complete tangible projects, which always looks good on your resume.

You’ll meet new people
Start volunteering and you can guarantee you’ll start meeting new people. Volunteer jobs provide a nice, relaxed way of networking and gaining some valuable connections in your field of interest.

You’ll gain confidence
For those that haven’t been out in the workforce, getting a real job can feel quite daunting. Volunteering work takes the scary bits away and gives you confidence in the career world. Generally voluntary work is well supported and may involve basic on the job training. You’ll learn what’s involved in a job. You’ll learn how to work alongside people, and you’ll continually be picking up new skills. Plus – you’ll have real work life experience to talk about in your next interview.

It looks good on paper
There’s no denying, mentioning your volunteer work on your resume looks good. How can someone not like the fact that you are so energetic and proactive? You can’t go wrong.

Volunteering badge - My career in Aged Care

Tips for highlighting your volunteer work in interviews

  • Don’t just put your volunteer work at the bottom of your resume like some sad little addition. Instead, label your volunteer jobs as something important (because it is), such as “pro bono consulting”, or “voluntary administrative work” and clearly articulate the situation, duties, actions and outcomes.
  • In an interview, when discussing your voluntary work, don’t just describe it as amazing or brilliant. Break it down into transferable skills, knowledge gained and new networks you’ve learned from.
  • International volunteer experience is also widely appreciated. You’ll be seen as having more life experience and strong innovation and motivation, so don’t forget to mention any international volunteer work that you have accumulated.

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