People undertake voluntary work for many different reasons, from helping their local community to gaining work experience. From a career perspective, volunteering can help you:

  • develop skills and gain new skills; which may be part of supporting a change of career direction, developing a career or finding a new sense of purpose;
  • bridge the transition back into a work environment after a break or redundancy;
  • learn about yourself and your capabilities, and enhance self-confidence;
  • make new contacts and improve networking skills;

To get the most from volunteering, it is important to think ahead.

Why do you want to volunteer?

  • Why do you want to volunteer? This will help you to find the opportunities most likely to meet your needs.
  • Do you need to get work experience for a change or career?
  • What are you passionate about? Do you want to work with a particular group or in a field where you can use existing skills or learn new ones?

Understand what you offer

Do you have specialist skills or expertise to share with others? Undertake an audit of your skills and values. Also consider whether you have particular qualities, such as a creative approach to solving problems? An energetic attitude that inspires colleagues? An ability to relate to others and empathise with them and their situation?

Energy and commitment

  • How much time can you offer given your existing commitments?
  • Do you need to cover your basic expenses in order to get involved?
  • How far are you able and willing to travel to undertake the work?

If you decide to volunteer, your reliability and commitment to the organisation is vital, they will be relying on you and expect you to take your responsibilities as an unpaid worker seriously. So be realistic about the contribution you can make alongside any existing work or personal commitments.

Just like the job market, the voluntary sector can be a competitive market, use our tips and advice on CVs, application and interviews section of our website when writing your cover letters and application forms.

Record and reflect on voluntary work

During your volunteering keep records as you go along:

  • What tasks or activities were you responsible for?
  • What results or outcomes did you achieve?
  • What did you learn from the experience?

After a volunteer assignment reflect on what you learned:

  • What specific skills did you develop through this work?
  • What did you learn about yourself, your capabilities and your preferences?
  • What impact (if any) does this experience have on your future career plans?

Think about how you will show this experience on your CV and application forms or at interview and how it relates to your future career plans.

For further advice please contact us on info@careerds.co.uk or call 0333 240 8115

Posted: Monday 9 July 2018

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