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Volunteering is usually associated with giving to others; but did you know that it can also help you get a job?
As well as enabling you to develop new skills, volunteering can also present excellent networking opportunities, help you to determine your career goals, and add value to your CV if you’re lacking in work experience.
If you’re going to be applying for graduate jobs, don’t overlook the value of volunteering for helping to boost your career prospects. Here’s how giving back can benefit your career:
Volunteering is a great addition to a CV - especially if you’re straight out of university and you don’t have a lot of work experience to shout about. For a potential employer, the fact that you have participated in volunteering will indicate that you have a number of attractive transferable skills; such as:
As such, it’s worth highlighting on your CV particular skills you learnt and challenges you faced during your time volunteering; as well as how you overcame them. Even better, point to specific events – such as the time you organised a huge fundraiser, volunteered at a soup kitchen, or contacted people for donations.
If you’re lacking on the work experience front, including volunteer experience on your CV can help you to stand out in the increasingly competitive graduate jobs market.
Volunteering can be a great way to develop your professional network while still at university or in the process of looking for graduate jobs.
If you want to work in the charity sector, it’s an opportunity to connect with professionals in that industry; but equally, it can also help you meet people in a variety of industries and jobs – some of whom may be helpful to you throughout your career.
Volunteering opportunities tend to be fairly casual and friendly; meaning that you can have open, genuine conversations with people working in an industry that you think might interest you, without having to attend formal networking events.
If you’re going to be applying for graduate jobs but you’re unsure exactly what it is you want to do, volunteering can be a great way to find out.
It might be that the activity is explicitly linked to a career path you’re interested in; and spending time with people in that field will help you to decide whether or not it’s for you.
Equally, though, the skills you learn whilst volunteering might help you decide which kind of graduate jobs that interest you.
You might discover that you love building relationships with people – so could consider applying for account management or client services graduate jobs. Equally, if you find you work well organising an event or a team, project management might be the career for you.
The fact that you have taken the time to volunteer unpaid shows employers that you have ambition, drive and that you are motivated by more than just money – something that they will hope to see mirrored at their business. This will also help to add credibility when answering an interview question about salary expectations.
It also indicates that you have passions and interests outside of work or study; showing a potential employer that you are a well-rounded individual who will add value to their business. This is important, particularly when answering the common graduate interview question "what are your hobbies and interests?"
Most people would agree that one of the best things about volunteering is the feel-good factor. Volunteering not only helps others, but will encourage you to meet new people, step outside of your comfort zone and expand your skill set.
All of these can help to boost your confidence levels – something that will better your chances of success in graduate job interviews, and even once you start your new job.
Volunteering can be a great way to boost your career, by enhancing your skill set, growing your professional network and increasing your self-confidence. Find more career advice on our Careers Advice Blog - or check out the latest Graduate Jobs!