The mark of any driven professional is a desire to grow and develop in everything they do. When things get stale or obstacles are in their way, the determined find a way to turn it into opportunity. When it comes to showing that professional drive and determination, volunteering might not have been the first thing that springs to mind, but it’s a superb way of developing new skills, showing initiative and boosting your career.
Say, for instance, you don’t have the required experience for a particular job, or you’re looking to stand out from other candidates. The requisite volunteering experience could be what gives you the edge to make the next step in your career. Here, we’ll dive into how volunteering can help to realise the career goals you’ve been driving towards.
It expands your network
Meeting new people through volunteering is a great way of optimising your network. It gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded people that you can connect with on both a personal and professional level. You may find yourself surrounded by all manner of staff, board members, clients and suppliers, and forging connections with people like this could be beneficial down the line.
After a while, you’ll be in a position to ask for professional references, opportunities to shadow members of staff, or even hire talented individuals you’ve been volunteering with if you have the authority to do so.
It helps to develop further skills
Volunteering is an excellent way of fine-tuning what’s already at your disposal and learning new skills to add to your arsenal. The soft skills you accrue during your time as a volunteer, such as effective communication, empathy and the ability to work in a team, are invaluable additions that you can leverage as part of your next career move.
You can choose a volunteering position that aligns with your chosen career, or you can go for something that you have an interest in already, using that innate passion as a means of learning new skills. Why not give back to a cause you’re passionate about, or get involved in the non-profit sector and add some fresh expertise to your current repertoire.
It shows you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone
Career advancement goes hand in hand with the unfamiliar, whether it’s moving into a totally new role or getting to grips with tasks you haven’t been faced with before. Volunteering is a good way of showing a potential employer that you aren’t afraid to willingly step out of your comfort zone. In doing so, you can figure out the kind of work you like and the kind of work you’d prefer to avoid.
It sets you apart from others
Volunteering experience undoubtedly looks great on a CV – whether you’ve had downtime between jobs or not – as it’s a sure-fire way of bolstering your resume and shows a willingness to learn that other candidates might be missing from their applications. Competitive organisations are always looking for candidates that can offer something special. A CV strengthened by volunteering is a great way of carving out a niche for yourself.
And if you are between jobs, then it demonstrates initiative, motivation and a desire to fill in the gaps created by periods of unemployment. Even if you aren’t getting paid, being able to tell a potential employer you’ve been spending your time actively involving yourself in community projects is going to make them take notice. Unemployment is a red flag that’s just waiting to be hoisted – don’t be caught out by CV gaps when the time comes for interviews.
It shows commitment
Employers value employees who are dedicated to their work. Any hint that a job is just a stop gap may signal to them that you could well be moving on soon. Volunteering is an indication of your own motivation and enthusiasm, how you can turn something of interest into a passion. Like a paid job, volunteering isn’t just something to be done for the sake of it, and it will show potential employers that you’re committed and in for the long haul.
It’s excellent for personal enhancement
Volunteering is not only an excellent way of improving your professional credentials; it’s great for personal development and will give your confidence a real boost. If you’ve been shaken by a period of unemployment, volunteering is a superb way to maintain your confidence and stay positive in the interim.
The personal growth one goes through when volunteering imparts new perspectives on your work, those around you and your chosen career path. These new perspectives and approaches could influence your next job move for the better. For example, have you enjoyed the independent aspects of volunteering, or did you work more effectively as a team? Are you more of a people person, or were the administrative tasks more to your liking? Volunteering helps to shape and mould your career goals while giving you valuable experience and making you a more well-rounded individual in the process.
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