We mentioned a while back that volunteering overseas can give you the edge when applying for jobs. But the truth is, you don’t have to leave the country to volunteer – there are loads of volunteer opportunities here in the UK. And they’re all really great at making you more employable.
The National Union of Students is celebrating National Student Volunteering Week next week (starting 11 February) but we think everyone should be getting involved with volunteering. Not only will it give you a sense of satisfaction for giving something back to society, it’s also really good for your CV.
Here are five ways volunteering can help make you more desirable to employers:
1. Volunteering demonstrates your ability to manage your time. If you are a student and volunteering at the same time this is a great way of showing employers that you can balance your time between studying, volunteering and socialising. This should reassure them that you have good time keeping skills and also the ability to be working on a number of projects without them suffering in quality.
2. Being a volunteer shows you can work with other people. Most volunteering opportunities, just like a lot of jobs, will involve you joining a team and working with them on a project or for a common goal. You’ll have to learn how to be an active member of a team, without dominating others. And if you have volunteering experience already, any potential employers won’t be worried about how you will work with other people.
3. Getting involved with volunteering gives you an opportunity to practice problem solving. Chances are things won’t all be plain sailing while you’re volunteering – just like they aren’t in life. You’ll probably face situations where you’ll have to use your initiative and come up with solutions for problems. This will give you an opportunity to show employers that you’re more than just a good CV and it will give you some great examples for when you’re asked in interviews of a time when you have overcome a problem (it’s something interviewers like to ask a lot).
4. Employers are looking for people who have transferable skills, and volunteering can help you develop all sorts of transferable skills. Communication, application of numeracy and IT, organisation, and an awareness of customers’ needs are all things you could learn from volunteering that will be useful in a wide range of jobs.
5. Volunteering can help you make professional connections that might be helpful in getting employment in the future. A lot of people choose to volunteer in an area that they are interested in making into a fulltime career. This means that they’ll be connecting with people who are already in the field that they want to go into, which can be really useful when jobhunting. But even if you’re not volunteering in the field that you eventually want to work in, the people you work with when volunteering will be able to provide references to employers to prove that you’re reliable and hardworking.
Not sure how you can get involved with volunteering? Some students from the University of Exeter filmed this video to celebrate National Student Volunteering Week last year and there are some great ideas of different volunteering projects.