As charities and community organisations galore can testify, volunteering is an amazing and rewarding way to help other people. However, it is also a fantastic way to help yourself – after all, it can significantly boost your employability. Since it’s National Volunteers’ Week once again, we therefore thought it would be quite appropriate and timely to highlight a few of the other key volunteering benefits.
First and foremost, volunteering can be a great way of helping you to extend your networks and contacts. It can enable you to engage with people and organisations that you may not otherwise have connected with. The relationships and connections that you therefore make as a result of volunteering can often ultimately lead to paid employment and career development opportunities.
Development of Skills
Whether you wish to hone your existing skills or turn your hand to something new, volunteering can be an excellent way to do this. It can help ensure that you don’t let things slip and can also enable you to develop new skills which will be beneficial for your career in the long term. You may choose to seek voluntary work in an area where you hitherto have no experience but ultimately wish to work in or you may choose to do voluntary work in an area where you can develop strong transferable skills that can be utilized in any area you work in in the future.
Try new things
It’s not always easy to explore new career paths or gain experience in new market sectors. After all, many of us tend to undertake a particular type of job and stick with it. However, with volunteering we are often afforded the opportunity to try something entirely new. In a sense, it’s like a ‘try before you buy’ option. It can provide us with the perfect way to gain experience in an area without any of the commitment that accepting paid employment requires.
If you are struggling to get a job at the moment, you may find that volunteering is your best option to remain active within the labour market. To an employer it will show that you like to remain proactive, that you are on a quest to develop yourself as well as to help others. Undertaking voluntary work will therefore help fill any gaps on your CV and will ensure that your overall employability is improved.
Refocus your career
If you’re undertaking voluntary work as an exploratory exercise i.e. if you wish to perhaps pursue a new direction in your career, you may find that one of the key benefits it brings you is the ability to compare and contrast with what you have done until that point. You may for example find that it gives you a renewed interest in your original career path and that it in a sense reinvigorates your passion and drive. On the other hand it could lead you to ask questions about the direction your career is taking and may lead to you taking an entirely different route. Either way, volunteering can act as a positive stimulus for your career – particularly if you are stuck in a bit of a career rut.
If you’ve been considering volunteering, we hope that by highlighting some of the key volunteering benefits, you will see how beneficial and rewarding an option it can be.
Got any other tips you’d like to share? Why not let us know via the comments section below.