Volunteering your way to a new job

Volunteering could help you back into the workplace after a career break.



Many people who have taken a career break are worried that potential employers will view that gap negatively. One way of easing your way back into the workplace is to do voluntary work so you have something recent to talk about at interview to demonstrate your skills. There are many reasons volunteering can be beneficial.

Confidence building

If you have been at home a lot it can be quite easy for your confidence to diminish. This is true of any type of break and is one of the biggest barriers to return, but many find that that confidence soon returns if you just take the plunge. Volunteering provides a platform to try something new and build your confidence. A sense of achievement and giving back will increase your confidence and will make things easier on your return to work.

The feel good factor

Volunteering can give you the ‘feel good factor’ and an interesting topic to talk about in an interview. This can help employers to see your diverse and transferable skills as well as providing you with a platform to try something new and show that you are not afraid to learn new things or take a different approach. 

New Skills

Volunteering particularly in a new field will allow you to learn new skills and, perhaps in some roles, new qualifications. This is an added bonus and something current and relevant to add to your CV. Make sure you draw out the relevant skills you have acquired in any job interview, including soft skills, giving clear examples of what you did.

Demonstrating transferable skills

This is a great one to offer employers as by volunteering you are showing how you are able to take on a new challenge. Adaptability to change is key in today’s workplace. 

A potential route to employment

You can use volunteering as an opportunity to re-train or gain the experience necessary to apply for the work or course you wish too. For example, if you volunteer as a classroom assistant this can improve your chances of being selected for teacher training programmes or if you have or are working towards counselling qualifications then volunteering with relevant charities such as the Samaritans or ChildLine may be a good starting point. If you have a particular job in mind, research backwards to what might be a relevant volunteering role.

If you have been actively volunteering then ensure this is added to your CV. Just because this is not paid does not mean it is not as significant as paid employment. If you have a gap of employment in your CV then ensure your volunteering experience is added in the work history section to fully demonstrate your new skills and experience. 

*With thanks to Emma Alkirwi, Managing Director of the CV Guru.

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