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How2become employed in your ideal job – volunteer for charity to boost your CV and improve your career prospects
Volunteering is a great way to contribute to an organisation or a cause you believe in, but volunteering with a charity need not be a purely charitable venture. Indeed, it rarely really is.
Not only can volunteering be highly rewarding emotionally, but it can also be beneficial in material terms. Volunteering help you gain valuable experience of working in a professional environment and can help you to acquire various transferable skills – through direct experience alongside coaching from supervisors if not full, formal on-the-job training. Volunteering also goes some way towards helping you gain general life experience with the opportunity to meet and socialise with all kinds of people who you may not have otherwise met in your day-to-day life.
Volunteering does, however, offer its best rewards in less tangible forms. But the fact remains that volunteering for charity can give your CV the boost it needs to set you apart from other job applicants.
Volunteering for charity is evidence of a certain drive and passion – whether it is towards the cause that the charity works for or simply for doing the type of work that your volunteering position involved. Drive, passion and enthusiasm are personal qualities highly sought-after by most employers and recruiters, irrespective of the company, sector, industry, etc.
Taking the initiative to volunteer with a charity also shows that you have leadership skills because you have the inner spark necessary to go out and do something even without the common incentive of direct monetary reward, and if you have this spark of self-motivation then you probably also have what it takes to coach and motivate other people.
Volunteering also illustrates a certain amount of independence of thought and action, which is generally another valued personal trait that most employers appreciate. After all, nothing speaks more about your independence, initiative and passion like teaching in a school in a remote village on the other side of the world while volunteering for a charity. And if it’s a local Birmingham charity you’re supporting that shows teamwork, commitment and reliability. It’s a win win scenario!
Experience of volunteering can help you gain various invaluable skills and brings extensive valuable experience your way, even if you’re not the adventurous type. Volunteering for a charity, whether at home or abroad, be it indoors or outdoors, for human rights or animal welfare or any other charitable cause, shows a certain mentality that employers highly desire and helps you to gain practical transferrable skills for the workplace too.
One skill you stand to gain through volunteering is teamworking. Volunteering can improve your ability to work within a team and as part of a group with a common aim or common cause as the group’s mission or objective. In fact, the feeling of solidarity and team spirit is especially strong within charity organisations, and this important quality is very well honed and improved during a typical volunteering work placement.
Working with a charity can also be a great confidence booster. It can give you a sense of belonging from which you can improve your general confidence, energy levels and communication skills – all traits which happen to be highly valued qualities for nearly all job roles available in the UK today. Indeed, volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door, to the professional world and possibly to the industry that you most wish to work in. Even if you’re a mature volunteer with decades of work experience behind you, volunteering can help you bridge the gap between the kind of paid work you do today and the kind you’d like to start doing, provided of course that your volunteering job is within the industry that you seek to migrate into.
Indeed, by volunteering – devoting your time and skills to a cause you believe in – all the while picking up important skills – you can structure your experience-building activity in such a way that you volunteer within the locale or industrial sector that you’re most interested in working with professionally and this can be especially useful for your future career trajectory.
These are just some qualities and skills obtainable via volunteering for the charity of your choice. Depending on the type of work you choose to do and where you work, etc, you may learn various other skills not mentioned here, and you may really enjoy your volunteering experience. Still, the fact remains that in the highly competitive global workforce market that we live with and often try to work in today, it is these additional skills and experiences that make you stand out from the crowd, to get that job you want and improve your career prospects for a more fruitful lifestyle.
About the author: Richard has been contributing to Charityzine since March 2013. As the founder of How2become, one of the UK’s leading training and recruitment websites for public sector careers, Richard’s current career mission is to provide job applicants with the knowledge they need to prepare for and pass selection processes for careers in the police, fire service, ambulance service and other major public sector bodies as well as charities and third sector organisations. The website currently offers over 150 publication titles. You can also find How2become on Facebook.