How volunteering can boost your job prospects
In an increasingly crowded jobs market, having something that makes you stand out can be the difference between landing your dream position or heading back to the drawing board.
It could be a first-class degree from a top university or fluency in another language, but more and more people are turning to volunteering as a way to set themselves apart from the pack.
You might decide to work at a music festival in exchange for a free ticket or gain insights into the ever-expanding social enterprise sector by volunteering with a company like us.
But whatever you choose, signing up to help out with a business or charity brings incredible personal satisfaction, while also allowing you to pick up concrete skills that give you a leg up the careers ladder.
CV gold dust
It can be gold dust for your CV, giving you that extra-special something that makes an employer sit up and take notice of your application from the hundreds they might have received.
These days, most people find they have plenty to talk about when it comes to their education, but not many can say they spent six months mentoring young people or blogging for a publishing company.
And having this experience to draw on will also make the actual process of writing your CV a whole lot easier, meaning it's less likely you'll end up stretching the truth to the unlikeliest of proportions.
As you volunteer, you'll find you start to build up an impressive network of contacts that you just wouldn't have had access to without donating even just a bit of your free time.
With a bit of luck, you'll end up meeting someone to use as a reference when looking for jobs or chatting to people who have already found work in your industry about how they got their foot in the door.
You'll get to know people just like you who could even become colleagues further down the line or else simply friends to talk to about your job search or professional life.
Sharpen your skills
Volunteering is also a great way to learn new skills. That could mean technical abilities that are specific to your industry, such as using a certain piece of equipment or getting your head around a specialist technique.
But in addition it means those softer skills that can really only be developed once you start to work with other people, including communication, personal organisation and teamwork.
Working pro bono – for instance with a translation agency or accountancy firm – could be a way to sharpen skills you've held for a long time, but rarely get the chance to use.
Boost in confidence
Alongside the benefits volunteering can bring to your career, there are countless ways it can be rewarding at a personal level, especially if you decide to work with a good cause or give something back to your community.
It can provide a real boost in confidence, showing you that you really can put skills you may have learnt in the classroom to use in the real world and allowing you to see what others think of your work.
This can help no end when it comes doing interviews for jobs or university places, as you'll have all the self-esteem that comes with achieving something really worthwhile.
Land a job
And, of course, who's to say that a voluntary position will stay that way?
As long as you show your full potential and impress your colleagues and managers, there's every possibility you'll go on to get a full-time job with the company you're working with.
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