The importance of volunteering is usually attributed to making the world a better place. But, as getting ahead at work is a matter of making a living and achieving one’s goals, it’s also important to understand the benefits volunteering can have on an individual’s professional developement.
1. Helps You Develop New Skills
As far as volunteering benefits go nothing is quite as important as this perk. Developing new skills is essential for professionals at all stages of their career. What’s great about gaining skills through voluntary work is that it shows you’ve been proactive about expanding your skillset. This can be a great way to showcase your initiative and win points with your future employers.
Gaining skills can have another advantage as you’ll learn skills through applying them, something that for many employers can be much more beneficial than if you’d learnt them in a classroom.
2. Gives You the Chance to Work in an Industry that Might Interest You
What’s great about voluntary opportunities is that they have an open door policy to everyone. This allows people to partake in experiences that might be completely different to their background or the type of work they do. So, if you are someone who’s considering changing careers, or if you are still in university, or even in school and would like to test the waters of an industry make sure you find an organisation to volunteer with.
3. Allows You to Apply Existing Skills and Knowledge
One of the most important volunteering benefits is that it offers an environment for professionals to test their skills and knowledge. As many employers frown upon people without any relevant experience, it can be impossible to get a job even though you may have skills. But, with a little volunteer work, you can include relevant work experience on your CV since most employers count unpaid work as work.
And of course, it’s not just professionals that this strategy can help; organisations can benefit from it as well as they get to use the services of qualified professionals for free. It can make a great difference as most charity organisations are always understaffed and the staff that does exist is usually spread too thin.
4. Helps You
No matter how many networking events you attend and how many people you try to connect with on Linkedin, nothing will ever beat relationships you make with people who have actually worked with you. As such, volunteering can be extremely beneficial as it allows you to work with people that you might have never even met otherwise and this can help in building a network that can seriously help your career.
To make the most of these opportunities, you really need to make an effort to impress the people you work with. Take the opportunity seriously and put your best efforts forward as this will allow you to showcase your skills and talents.
5. Creates a Positive Impression
To grow professionally you essentially need two things. One stems from you and has to do with your willpower to push forward; the second has to do with how you rub off on others and what employers get from you. Whether you are job searching, or are merely looking for advancement opportunities, it’s important to be able to stand apart from the crowd and this is exactly what volunteering helps you do.
It is especially true if you are a recent graduate and your professional profile is almost identical to dozens of other candidates who studied the same thing and have the same skills and knowledge. Having given your services for free can help you stand out from the crowd and create a positive impression on prospective employers.
6. Shows You Aim High
It’s also important to note that employers are looking for energetic and enthusiastic employees, not only to hire, but to promote and advance as well. And managing to showcase your enthusiasm and goals can help other people trust you with more work duties and responsibilities.
Remember that taking the initiative and showing commitment to voluntary work are qualities that are always admired in the workplace and they will always come in handy, even when you least expect them too.
7. End Up With a Job
I don’t want to get you too rowdy, but the truth is that it’s been known to happen; a professional offers their services for free, works hard because s/he is dedicated to doing good and ends up with a job offer. Many organisations recognise talent and understand that by offering jobs to volunteers they will be able to do more with their time and it will help the organisation more.
It’s important not to start out with this expectation as you might end up disappointed but do keep it in the back of your mind as a way to motivate yourself to do more in the workplace.
8. Motivates You During Your Job Search
One of the most common problems jobseekers face is that they lose spirit during the job search and it’s not hard to understand why. It can be very draining to get excited about a new opportunity, stress about what to include in your application and then have to wait until someone else makes up their mind. As such many jobseekers end up completely unmotivated, which hurts their chances of getting hired.
Volunteering can help you remain hopeful. Giving back always makes people feel like they are doing something meaningful which can be exactly what you need when you are looking for a job.
9. Enhances Your CV
As we discussed earlier, doing voluntary work can be used as work experience. What’s more, it can also be used to fill employment gaps. This means that doing volunteering work can help your CV look more complete.
To effectively include your volunteer work on your CV you can list it as related work experience. If you are trying to highlight your skills you should include all the skills you’ve gained through your volunteer work.
10. Shows Dedication and Commitment
Millennials have been labelled as job-hoppers as research has shown that they tend to not stay put for long. Many employers are worried about this attribute as they are looking for employees that are reliable and this is where volunteering comes in. Having committed your free time to a cause makes you seem dedicated and committed and this can significantly boost your chances when you are trying to convince a new employer to hire you.
11. Helps You Gain Confidence
Confidence is a characteristic that can help you get ahead in the workplace as it allows you to trust yourself more and therefore be more daring. This allows you to take bigger risks which will inevitably lead to smarter decisions and also set you apart from the crowd.
As the space you do your voluntary work in will be less stressful, you will inevitably be more relaxed and you’ll be able to showcase your talents and skills more easily.
12. Allows You to Make a Difference in the World
Perhaps the most significant volunteering benefit is that it allows people to make a difference in the world. Working with underprivileged communities, or in environmental conservation can really contribute to change.
Volunteering can be beneficial to your career and it’s important to continue voluntary work at all stages of your career. Have a look at opportunities in your community, but don’t hesitate to look outside the country as well. Volunteering at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for example could be an experience that will forever change your life.
How do you feel about volunteering? Here’s how to write a letter asking to volunteer. Let me know how it goes in the comment section below.