If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.~ Booker T. Washington
This is a contribution by How2Become
When you’re desperately looking for that next job, working for free may not seem like the next best thing at all. But, volunteering can seriously help you to stand out from other applicants and can help you to get that next interview.
Show that you are a proactive person
Volunteering for three months looks a lot better on a resume than a long gap between jobs. It shows that you have kept your brain active, that you have been determined to improve the lives of others and that you were not content to sit at home and order a pizza.
It’s not all about money
It shows a great level of dedication and loyalty to stick at a volunteering post for a few months without being paid. Volunteering demonstrates that there is more to your motivation than just money. Employers will like this as they will see you as a person who wants to do their job well for the sake of fulfilling your own personal goals rather than it being all about the money. Somebody who really wants a job for reasons other than financial ones will be much more appealing to employers.
Learn key skills
Many volunteering posts require many of the same skills as a paid professional job. For example, fundraising for a charity requires good sales and negotiation skills in order to get people to donate. Similarly, working with children with learning difficulties or teaching English as a foreign language require excellent communication skills.
Network with influential people
Many larger charities have paid jobs higher up. Whilst volunteering you may get to meet people who have the power to hire and fire employees in these positions. After a few months of volunteering for a larger charitable organisation you may even be offered a permanent paid position. You will be amazed at the variety of different people who volunteer. Even if they themselves are between jobs or out of work, they may have friends and relatives in the industries in which you wish to apply for jobs. It never hurts to get talking to people with contacts.
Gain Work Experience
There are a huge number of volunteering opportunities out there. You are bound to find something relevant to the career you want to pursue. If you want to go into marketing then why not help a charity to design posters for free? If you’re looking at events management then ask if you can help to organise a charity dinner or a fundraising event. You can tailor the type of volunteering you do to perfectly demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to enter your desired field. These kinds of opportunities would not be given to you in a paid job until you climbed quite high up the ladder in a larger corporation, so volunteering can give the perfect platform to prove you have what it takes.
Get further, faster
Since volunteers don’t get paid, there are few people who can afford to stick at it for a considerable length of time. If you manage to stay for a few months, you may see yourself become one of the more senior and experienced volunteers. You may even get your own team to lead; an opportunity which you wouldn’t be given for years in the corporate world. Relish the opportunities and make the most of them. Managerial experience will look amazing on your resume and will show that other people have had faith in you to perform to a very high standard in the past.
Richard McMunn is a writer for How2Become, a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centres in order to secure their dream job.