10 ways volunteering can help you get a job

Posted on Dec 05, 2013 12:34 PM |

10 ways volunteering can help you get a job

Susie Colles, an Australian Volunteer in the Mbabane General Hospital, Swaziland. Photo Kate Holt/AusAID

Every year, 3.6 million Australians volunteer for a not-for-profit or community organisation. That's millions of hours of service to the community!

But besides being a practical way for wonderful, caring people to help out, volunteering can also add a positive dimension to your career. And we reckon it’s the single best way to get an ethical job.

Whether you just want a job or are looking for a new challenge, here’s a list of 10 ways volunteering can help you get an ethical job.

1. Make connections with people who share your passions

Could you do with access to the grapevine of unadvertised job opportunities? Want to get advice from people about your dream career path? Volunteering can give you access to people who have already succeeded in your field of interest. Your volunteer contacts can also serve as referees.

2. Enhance your CV

Volunteering can quickly grow your bank of work experience and keep your CV looking fresh. Employers can see the initiative shown by job-seekers who make the most of their spare time by lending their professional skills to charities and not-for-profits.

3. Learn about different people and cultures

Organisations welcome applicants who have an ability to liaise with the full diversity of the Australian community. Volunteering in a role that exposes you to a different community can give you valuable insights to take into your next job.

4. Demonstrate your ability to respond to challenges

Volunteering can be difficult work; in fact, a volunteer job may be just as challenging as a paid job for the same organisation. It’s a great way to show a potential employer how you frame a challenge and then how you respond to it.

5. Develop your confidence

Organisations tend to reward their volunteers by providing plenty of positive reinforcement and regular social outings. This can help develop a sense of belonging and build self-worth – and maybe some good friends too!

6. Have interesting experiences to talk about

Stories and anecdotes from volunteer roles are great icebreakers. Having interesting experiences to talk about may just be what helps you get comfortable in a job interview and establish a rapport.

7. Recruiters like volunteer experience

Having volunteer work on your CV can help you stand out. We reckon the US research, which finds 65 percent of not-for-profit hiring managers consider volunteer experience to be important, would also be true for Australia.

8. Chance for career exploration

Do you want to open yourself up to different roles and experiences? Volunteering allows a deep exploration of what it’s like to work in different workplaces. It can help you confirm what your dream job is or avoid wasting time on one that’s not right for you.

9. Work with people on the front line

Some of the best and freshest insights come from contact with people delivering or receiving services on the front line. Volunteer roles in local groups and at large events provide exposure to grassroots points of view.

10. Highlight your values and passions

It can be hard to demonstrate what drives you if you have no history in the field. Volunteering in an area that aligns with your passions can help to clearly define yourself by proving that you have a serious interest in the cause.

And volunteering is the expert’s tip for landing a dream ethical job:

Get involved in projects that you’re passionate about as a volunteer. It creates many opportunities and hopefully you’ll learn while you’re at it,” according to Kristy Walters from Brisbane's Northey Street City Farm.

 

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