National Student Volunteering Week is celebrated every February in the UK with universities acknowledging the invaluable contributions that volunteers make. It is also a good time to explore and commit to volunteering opportunities that align with your interests and ambitions while tacking causes and issues you care about. Not only does volunteering entail actively participating in selfless activities that benefit other people, but it is highly commended by hiring managers and recruiters. Here’s why:
Refine career goals and find passion
Are you having trouble defining your career goals? Do you know what it is that you are passionate about? Volunteering in different organisations will expose you to a plethora of career options and interests, some that you may have not known or thought of before. Insight into a particular role through some work experience is often the best way to really understand and appreciate the demands of the role or the organisation.
Gain experience and develop skills
Once you’ve dipped your toes into the pool of volunteering, you’ll soon learn how to swim. Even though most voluntary positions are usually for a limited amount of time, the experience you accumulate with every role contributes to your overall development. Remember, practice makes progress. In addition, you may volunteer at an organisation and find yourself doing work that is not directly related to your field of expertise. This too is an opportunity for you to develop new transferable skills.
Meet new people, expand professional network
‘Your network is your net worth’ – it is indeed! Make the most of your volunteering experience by establishing connections with other professionals in the career path that you wish to align yourself with. Reach out for a coffee and a conversation and nurture those relations because they could become useful in the future. At the end of your volunteering contract, ask for a recommendation or endorsement of skills on LinkedIn from colleagues and superiors which will consolidate your professional profile.
Your role as a volunteer can provide a sense of purpose and pride, which can boost your self-confidence. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help you take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated and add a new dimension to your life. Having high self-esteem will empower you in the pursuit of your career and personal goals.
Looks good on a CV
According to research conducted by the professional service network Deloitte, 82% of hiring managers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience, and 85% of those are willing to overlook other CV flaws when a candidate includes volunteer work. Volunteering illustrates a lot about your character, both as an individual and a professional – and this can be the thing that pushes you out of the CV pile and into a new position. It shows that you are proactive in your spare time, passionate about certain causes and you have the ability to extend your skills beyond role-related jobs.