5 ways volunteering can benefit your career

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some people, it offers the chance to give back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others, it can provide an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience which can also benefit your career.


Recently, we have seen a shortfall of the number of job seekers who can prove they are proactive and motivated; attributes which are becoming very popular with hiring managers. Being a volunteer doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, it can be as little as an hour a month or two hours a day. There are various ways you can volunteer; you can help a local band with their social media or fundraise for a local cause.

We looked at the top five ways volunteering can benefit your career.

1)    Work experience

Today’s job market is competitive, and you’ll often hear “you don’t have enough experience”. Volunteering roles usually just require people who have a passion for the position. By volunteering, you gain experience and the chance to wow the hiring manager.

Volunteering for a charity can also give you a great idea of the work ethic expected in employment and give you the responsibility of carrying out tasks.


2)    Learn a new skill or 10

Charities and not-for-profit organisations recruit hundreds of volunteers every year throughout the UK and, as a result, the range of opportunities on offer is endless. From sports coaching to fundraising, marketing to mentoring, volunteering is a great way to improve your career skills.

Due to the nature of volunteering, you can take on leadership roles very quickly. Having leadership skills is a great way to show an employer your potential. Being a team leader in a volunteer role doesn’t take long and you can learn how to manage people, time and in some cases budgets. Even if you’re not a born leader it’s important to be able to stand up and make your voice heard, and there are plenty of experiences on offer that will help you grow into a stronger, more confident leader.


3)    Build your confidence

Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of achievement. Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity. This will make you shine in interviews.

Volunteering can also help with other personal development such as teamwork and time management. These attributes are on just about every job description. Being a team player doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, but volunteering can introduce you to communicating with people and supporting your peers. 


4)    Taste of the industry

When looking at what industry you’d like to work in, it can become overwhelming. However, volunteering can give you the opportunity to try out different industries such as Healthcare, Childcare, Marketing and Events. This gives you the chance to decide where you might start your career without the risk.


5)    Improve your CV

Adding relevant skills and experience to your CV will help you differentiate from other applicants. But, we know this is hard to do when you don't have experience.

Employers are aware of the benefits of volunteering and recognise the initiative and commitment that can be required by volunteers.

While qualifications are essential; voluntary work can help you get the experience you need to have a more successful CV.


What are the experts saying?

“Volunteering shows employers two vital traits that can influence their decision in hiring you. One, it shows that you are willing to work for an organisation either in your spare time or a non-paid basis, to increase your personal development. This demonstrates a commitment to your career and shows your disposition to improve and therefore take on tasks outside of your day to day requirements.

Two, it also allows you to gain exposure to an industry or role that you may be trying to get experience in, allowing the employer to hire someone with the expertise they require who has gone above and beyond to gain those skills.

In the current marketplace employers are more risk averse and volunteering to gain skills that maybe you would not automatically get without this experience is a win-win for you and them.”

- Sarah-Lee Neesam, Director at Elevation

We know that the volunteering world has dozens of adverts asking you to help. Using Local Volunteer Centres, Charity Advisors and online services (such as do-it.org.uk) will help match your requirements with the opportunities. While you won’t get paid (apart from expenses), you will have the chance to get involved in activities you may later want to pursue as a career or enhance your current job.

Where you can find volunteer roles

Do-it.org- the national database of volunteering opportunities.

V•Inspired- V•Inspired is the UK’s leading volunteering charity for people aged 14–30.

At your local Volunteer Centre- if you want to find an opening in your local area, this can be an ideal place to start. Click here to locate your nearest centre.

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