How Volunteering Can Help Boost Your CV
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Volunteering isn’t just good for the communities you help out, it also looks great on your CV and in job interviews! Win win! Here’s some advice from Youth Employment on how to incorporate skills you learn whilst volunteering into your job hunt - whether it’s explaining them in your CV or chatting through what you’ve learnt at an interview...
Learn new skills and experiences (Young Professional skills)
Youth-friendly employers aren’t obsessed with your qualifications and work experience – they know you’re just getting stuck into the world of work and haven’t got a million jobs on your CV. These days, employers care more about your life and work skills. These are skills you can build from an early age in all kinds of life situations, not just work. You don’t study for these skills, but they are still important!
Some life and work skills might come naturally to you. Some you might find more challenging, but the good news is that you can still build them over time.
Free online training programmes like Young Professional training are geared to helping you build these skills, but here are the top life and work skills in a nutshell – with examples of how you can show employers you developed these skills through volunteering during a job interview!
Building and demonstrating top life and work skills through volunteering
Teamwork: Volunteer groups are often diverse with a range of ages, backgrounds and abilities, so you’ll learn how to work as a team with people who you might not otherwise hang out with.
Communication: Communication is about listening as well as talking. Having good communication skills means listening carefully to instructions from your team leader to do your tasks well and stay safe.You can ask your team and leader questions to soak up as much info as possible about volunteering. You can also flex your online communication muscles by subscribing to volunteering newsletters and following volunteering channels on social media to feel connected with the bigger volunteering mission (as well as discovering facts and opportunities you might not have known about).
Problem solving: Every activity you do in life – whether it’s hobbies, passion projects, paid work, or volunteering – involves solving problems! It’s how you approach the problem that counts. Tell yourself that any challenge has at least one solution. In volunteering you can learn new practical skills, or learn to use new equipment, or ask questions to help you achieve a tricky task you’ve been set.
Imagine you’ve been asked to paint a fence, but you can’t reach the top. Giving up isn’t solving the problem. You can solve the problem by asking for a ladder and someone to hold it. You could also ask someone taller if they can help. Two different solutions to the same problem! It’s this kind of logical thinking and positive attitude that employers really love to see.
Self-belief: Speaking of positive attitude…self-belief can be thought of as a skill, because it’s not always easy to believe in yourself and it’s something you can grow more confident in over time. When you volunteer you might get tired, hungry, sweaty, cold, or perhaps frustrated (but never bored!). If you can try to stay positive in yourself and with others even when you’re tired or not feeling your best, that is an AMAZING skill and achievement. It helps you grow in confidence and enjoy what you’re doing more. It helps the team feel your positive vibe and draw strength from it. And it helps get the task done, whatever your volunteering task may be! Employers want to see you’ve got a positive attitude even when the going gets tough, and volunteering is a great way to show employers you’ve got what it takes.
Another big part of self-belief is having the inner confidence to learn from your mistakes. You made a mistake…but so what? You can own your mistake without getting defensive about it. You can learn how to improve from it. Every mistake is a chance to grow and learn. Having the quiet confidence to see mistakes in this way is a big part of self-belief. Employers NEED to see this quality in you, because when you’re new in a job you will make lots of mistakes. And that’s okay! They want to know you will listen, learn, improve, and not feel bad about yourself. We all make mistakes. It’s how we deal with it that counts.
Self-management: Being organised and on time is important in volunteering, and it’s important in jobs too! Your volunteering team leader needs you to turn up on time, bringing any kit you were asked to bring (whether it’s packed lunch or waterproofs). If you’re sick or can’t make it, you need to let your team know. Your future boss wants to be able to trust you to show up, prepare in advance, and do your best even when they’re not watching you every second.. And let’s face it – you will feel better if you don’t have to panic about being late or trying to get by without that important thing you were told to bring but left at home by mistake.
Another self-management skill you can learn during volunteering is using your initiative. If you have a good idea, tell your volunteering team leader! If you can see a new volunteer looking a bit lost or confused, chat to them and help them settle in! If your volunteering leader or manager hasn’t given you something to do, don’t just sit around. Use your initiative! Start now, and one day this skill will take you far.
Show employers you can commit to something and go the extra mile
Volunteering is about making your own choices! No-one forces you to volunteer. You choose to do it for yourself.
Including volunteering on your CV sends employers the message that you are a proactive person who has passion, acts with purpose, and can commit to something. You can do all that without even getting paid for it! Employers can’t wait to see you take this energy and put it into work you get paid to do.
Show employers you’re working on your confidence and personal growth
Confidence takes many forms. It’s not the same as being outgoing. Real confidence is about trying new things, learning from mistakes, allowing yourself to say “yes I will try” instead of “no I can’t”.
Volunteering will open your eyes to new horizons. You’ll learn about an aspect of the world you never knew about before. You will learn new skills. You will learn how to do things you’d never had the chance to do before. You will learn how to work and communicate as a team and how to think of others and help them.
Volunteering is a brave new world, and a really safe – and fun – way to expand your comfort zone.
Employers love to see this in you. When you get the job, they will be teaching you lots of new things as part of your training. Volunteering on your CV shows you are ready and willing to grow as a person and learn new things.
Here’s what our volunteer Youth Ambassadors say…
Youth Ambassadors are young people aged 19-24 who volunteer with Youth Employment UK to help young people everywhere in the UK. These youth volunteers are passionate, diverse and add some AMAZING achievements to their CV through volunteering. They have been project leads for schools outreach, presented in public, interviewed government officials and much, much more.
“Volunteering as a Youth Ambassador has helped me to have more confidence because I was able to take on roles that I would have never thought of doing.” - Priscilla
“I have become much more confident in my public speaking and conducting myself in online meetings and discussions. There are constant opportunities to work with other passionate young people who have all made me feel really welcome and with whom I’ve been able to do some really great work.” - Ciara
“I have become good at communication and don’t really get nervous in meetings.” - Asma
“I have gained leadership skills, am better at applications and interviews, and have made some amazing friends for life.” - Jack
So there you have it! Volunteering is good for your personal growth AND your CV. You can change yourself and the world when you step up to volunteer for something you believe in. Why not become a Volunteer Youth Ambassador today!