Whether you are stepping on to the career ladder for the first time, or looking to change direction, volunteering is a great way to improve your CV. The need to have experience to get experience is a familiar catch 22; one that can make it seem almost impossible to move forward. Exploring voluntary opportunities is a great way to overcome this, fill any gaps on your CV, and improve your chance of being shortlisted for interview.
The wider benefits of volunteering
Undertaking a volunteer role can make you stand out to prospective employers. In fact 73% of leading UK businesses say that they would employ an applicant with voluntary experience over someone without. Volunteering demonstrates your ability to commit to a role without the need for financial reward, and a willingness to go the extra mile.
There are lots of other ways that volunteering will boost your employment prospects by giving you the chance to:
- Do something positive, either in your community or abroad
- Work in high level roles
- Develop a range of new skills, including through attending training sessions
- Meet new people who you may not otherwise come across
- Work with organisations that are relevant to your ideal career
- Explore new opportunities.
Finding the right position
Start by identifying the skills required by the job sector you are interested in. Advertised jobs or occupational profiles on the National Careers Service website will help you find this information. Compare the requirements against your CV to identify the gaps in your experience, then choose volunteer roles that will help you to bridge them.
A voluntary position in your area of interest is a great way to get experience that is directly relevant to your goals, but skills relevant to business can be gained from volunteering in any environment.
To make the most of your opportunity, get involved in as many different activities as you can. Participate in training schemes that are offered, and ask lots of questions. Standing out as a volunteer could offer the potential for future employment in the organisation, or through connections you make along the way.
Incorporate voluntary experience in your CV
Whatever your voluntary position, it will equip you with transferrable skills that you can draw on in any workplace. For example; communication, problem solving, working under pressure, or working as part of a team.
When putting your CV together, give specific examples of tasks that you conducted in your voluntary role. Use them as evidence that you have the skills required by the position you are applying for. Make sure you include your important achievements as well.
Not only is volunteering a good way of improving your CV and getting ahead in your job search, it can also be lots of fun. Who knows where it will take you!
Written by Becci Johnson