When it comes to improving your job prospects, many people automatically think about getting experience as an intern, taking a course, or earning new responsibilities in an existing role. But did you know that there’s a wide variety of volunteering roles out there that can really help to improve your attractiveness as a candidate for a new career?
In this article, we’ll take a look at a number of top volunteering activities that can improve your chances of securing your dream job, covering what you’ll learn in that role, why employers value it, and how to share it on your CV and in your interview.
First Aid Volunteering:
Did you know that 66% of people are not confident that they could help someone who needs first aid treatment? Not only can volunteering as a first aider gives you the opportunity to save lives, it’s also a great way to learn a number of highly valuable skills, including teamwork, leadership, and how to work under pressure.
Because the majority of people in the UK are not trained, a large part if being a first aider is to know how to lead others in an emergency, which is why first aid training involves being taught how to delegate tasks to others and identifying people to help with certain tasks.
A major part of administering first aid is being able to handle snap decisions under a high pressure situation. Others around you may be panicking, there may be distractions, yet you must be able to quickly decide what action to take to save a life. Similarly, if you’re volunteering at an event such as a festival, you’ll likely be working in a team, and need to decide together who will take care of what tasks.
These skills developed through first aid volunteering are highly valued by employers as they are transferrable to the business world, whether it’s making quick decisions based on the evidence available, working with a team on a project or managing a group of new starters. There is also a direct benefit to many employers, particularly ones where there is a risk of injury, as employers are required to assess their first aid obligation, and have a first aider on site if necessary.
If you have already been on a first aid course in the past, make sure your certificate is still in date before you apply for a volunteering position – due to a recent rule change, there is no longer a grace period if your certificate is out of date. When it comes to your interview, be sure to consider a few talking points to cover the skills you’ve learnt, for example any anecdotes of how you helped people, how you led others, and how you worked as a team.
Volunteering at a Care Home:
Communication skills are very important not just for your interview, but to ensure you make an impact in your new role too. A great way to further develop these skills, as well as helping some of the more vulnerable people in society, is to volunteer in a care home.
Many care homes offer volunteering positions, for example Danushri Srinivasan volunteers each week at Admiral Court Care Home near Southend. A big part of her role here is to lead arts and crafts sessions with residents who live with dementia. These people often don’t receive many visitors, so even small things like a short conversation can make a difference to their lives.
It’s a great way to demonstrate to potential employers that you’re able to build rapport with anyone, as well as having an interest in other people, which can help to show you’d make a good cultural fit. Similarly, it’s a great way to build up confidence if you’re not the most extroverted person out there, especially if you get the opportunity to lead classes or groups of people.
Since communication is a key skill you’ll develop at a care home, be sure to reflect this when you mention it in your CV. Include an example of what your approach was to build rapport, and what the result was. For example, you could make it your aim to learn everyone’s name and greet them personally each day you were in, resulting in the residents looking forward to your arrival and noticeably enjoying their time with you. Remember to be able to talk about such stories in detail, in case the interviewer asks about them.
Take a Leading Role in a Club or Society:
Getting involved with a club or society is a great way of showing you have a life outside of work or your course, but to take it to the next level, it’s much more beneficial to take on a leading role within it. Clubs usually hold an AGM when you can run for a committee position and gain responsibility over a part of the club, such as finance or events.
Taking on such a position offers you the opportunity to learn skills that are highly relevant to the world of work, such as managing people, debating ideas with the committee, planning events and even arranging transport, depending on the type of club and your position.
This is a great role to taken on if you’ve not gained much work experience yet as many of the challenges you’ll face will be similar to that of a small business, and a great way to show you’ve been successful in a role of responsibility.
When adding a role in a club or society to your CV, include a brief overview of your responsibilities, emphasising the transferrable skills you learnt along the way. Include any achievements and value you brought to your role, such as “secured promotion for my team” or “ended my tenure as club treasurer with a budget surplus”. Remember to be able to talk about these points in your interview if asked.
Work for a local Charity Office:
In the last few years, internships have been stepping stones into full-time employment for students and graduates. However, they’re not the only way to learn valuable skills for the office including email etiquette and understanding the needs of business. A great way to gain exposure to these is through volunteering for a local charity in their main office.
One of the key benefits of such a role is that smaller local charities often require their staff to be multi-skilled, meaning you’re likely to gain knowledge working in several different disciplines, such as marketing, PR, administration, finance and others.
This is an ideal first step for anyone who’s not yet decided what sort of career they’re after, allowing to tailor their volunteering experience on their CV around the full-time role they’re after. For example, if you decide to get into marketing, you can emphasis your marketing experience on your CV.
Furthermore, since charities can usually benefit from volunteers all year round while many internship opportunities for students are only available during the summer months, you may be able to secure a part-time position during term time, leaving your summer free to travel or other paid work.
Summary: As you have seen, volunteering is a great way to improve your job prospects not just because it’s a way to show off your well rounded character, there’s actually a wide range of transferrable skills to learn which are relevant to most graduate level roles.
Has volunteering made a difference to your CV and job interview? How did you present your experience to demonstrate its relevance to the role you’d applied for? Let us know in the comments below.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by Seb Atkinson from Selesti Limited