There’s probably no need to convince you why volunteering looks good on your CV. Hiring managers love it because it shows you’re passionate about something. And it’s a great chance for you to make new friends and gain transferrable skills.
What you may not have known is that volunteering does more than just build skills and experience. It gives you a true-to-life taste of what the job market is really like and what matters to hiring managers. In other words, it gives you that competitive edge that helps your CV stand out.
And when it comes to landing that first job straight out of university, it could provide that much-needed boost that accelerates you into your career. Let’s take a closer look at what volunteering teaches you about the job market.
It Helps You Determine Which Skills Really Matter
Skills are important when it comes to applying for your next job, that’s a no brainer. But what skills will help you stand out? And are there certain skills that matter more in one industry than another?
When it comes to the job application, everybody boasts about having amazing time-management skills, adaptability and impeccable communication. And though those are definitely important, they don’t really make you stand out from the crowd. By volunteering, you get to work directly with an organisation and find out first-hand what skills matter most to them and their industry.
If you work in education, patience is a key skill. Anyone who works in marketing will tell you problem-solving and critical thinking is are must-haves. And social welfare or community work? Then empathy and sensitivity are vital.
By putting yourself in the right context, you’ll learn which skills you already have, and which are important for the job you want. Ultimately, volunteering allows you to learn not just about yourself, but about the people who will be hiring you and what matters most to them.
It Teaches You the Importance of Working Collaboratively
When it comes to applying for a job, everyone says they’re a team player. But how many people really know what that means?
When you take the time to volunteer, you learn not only how to work well with other people, but how to work well with people from a range of cultures, backgrounds and ways of thinking. And that’s so important for the working world because you’ll be surrounded by people with different views and working styles.
Whether you’re working an event or supporting a charity a few days a week with a specialised skill like social media or legal advice, you’re learning how to adapt your working style to accommodate others. At uni, you may have had to rely more heavily on yourself (even when it came to group work). But in an office or community-based environment, everyone supports one another to achieve a common goal. So you don’t need to be afraid to ask for help or offer help when it’s needed.
It Allows You to Figure Out Which Industry and Role Is Right for You
Think of it as a taster; one of those tiny scoops of delicious ice cream that help you determine whether or not you want to commit to buying the whole cone. When you volunteer, you get a chance to learn about (and understand) a job or an industry before making a long-term commitment. Find out what you like, what you’re good at and how your passion can translate into a full-time role.
Although volunteering tends to be limited mostly to the charity sector, there’s still a diverse range of job types and industries within the sector you can try out. Some of the causes you can explore in the sector include:
- Arts and culture
- Animal welfare
- Human rights
- International development
- Social welfare
- Youth work
- Health and medicine
- Housing and homelessness
And within those causes, there are roles for marketing professionals, IT specialists, public relations, finance, law, nursing and teaching, as well as dozens of other third sector-specific jobs like fundraising and support work. And many small charities turn to recent graduates to fill some of these roles on a part-time voluntary basis, allowing them to gain that valuable experience in a practical and worthwhile way.
It Teaches you The Value of a Strong Network
If you’re fresh out of university, then ‘networking’ may still be one of those words that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Sure, you attended a few networking events, but maybe you were more drawn to the allure of snacks than the idea of talking to recruiters or hiring managers.
When it comes to networking, it’s all about perspective. Don’t think of it as a way for power-hungry industry people to worm their way up the ladder; instead, regard it as a means of making friends in a work environment. And the more people you know, the more chances you have of not just landing a job but finding out who’s hiring quicker.
When volunteering, you’re building a network of people with similar interests. Whether that’s other volunteers or the people running the events, they all are valuable contacts to have when you’re looking to land that first job. Connect with them on LinkedIn and shoot them the occasional email to keep the relationship healthy.
And who knows? Maybe they can be the link to taking that first step into your career.
Think you’re ready to explore everything all the benefits volunteering can provide you? Find out what volunteer opportunities are available today.
This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialised job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.
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