From Volunteering to Working in 5 Easy Steps
Whether you have been working for a long time or just starting on your career path, volunteering can help your job search. Don’t stress though. You won’t need to spend all your free time volunteering to get the benefits. However long you’re able to dedicate to volunteering, you’ll be surprised how good it can be for your mental well-being during a job search.
The fact is volunteering provides you with the skills and mindset that will let you succeed in your job hunt. Most significantly, employers recognise how useful it can be and that is says a lot about the type of worker you will be. If you are ready to improve your application process and feel good about the work you’re doing read these 5 steps that can quickly take you from volunteering to working.
1. Plug Resume Gaps
Nobody likes resume gaps. They can make your work history look sporadic to employers which can invite unwanted questions to you in turn. One way to plug these holes is by volunteering. Volunteering while you look for a job helps to combat the depressive thoughts that can develop during a long job search. It will also tell employers that you are a hard-working and driven.
2. Become a “Professional” Volunteer
While you might not be getting paid to volunteer, there is no harm in treating it the same way you would a regular job. After all you are there to work. Treating your role seriously and being professional (showing up on time, being courteous and respectful) can go a long-way in helping you get more responsibilities.
Otherwise, the best way to volunteer is to throw yourself in. Offer to help wherever you can, ask questions, listen to people who have been there for a long time, and talk to other volunteers. You have to recognise that this is a unique opportunity for you to learn and take every opportunity. The behaviours that will make you a favourite volunteer will also help you impress at work too.
3. Showcase Your Experiences in Your Resume
How you format your resume can affect the way a Hiring Manager interprets the information. If you really want to impress employers with your volunteering history, don’t hide it down the bottom next to your hobbies. You want the person reading your resume to immediately see what skills and abilities you used and developed while volunteering there. The best way to do this is to list it the same way you would for any other paid experience you might have.
That means listing the dates you were there along with your role (e.g. Volunteer Store Manager). Below that should be bullet points that outline your duties and your results. You want to show the employer that the skills you learnt while volunteering were put to good use. More importantly you want them to see that they can be transferred.
If you don’t have much (or any) working experience, you definitely want to make sure the skills and experience you have developed while volunteering is front and centre. That and a snappy headline and you will catapult your application above people with similar experience who don’t know how to sell themselves.
4. Develop a Robust Network
31% of Australians were formally involved with a volunteer organisation in 2017. Together they helped to contribute $290 billion of their time and effort towards good causes. With this many people helping out, you are bound to meet someone who can help you get a job. They might have an opportunity with their company or they might know someone who is.
This is also why it’s so important to act professionally during your volunteering. Meeting people is great but you not if they think you’re a dodgy worker!
5. Smash Your Interviews
A job interview is all about helping the employer get an idea of who you are as a person. You can get a head start on that process with a volunteering history. Immediately it gets Hiring Managers thinking that you are proactive, caring and hardworking. Talk about good first impressions! Volunteering is also beneficial because it can help the interviewer ease in to conversation with you. Starting the interview in a relaxed, confident manner can help you perform better.
If you include your volunteering history on your resume (and you definitely should be), the interviewer will probably ask you about it. Interviewers may be in one or two camps. They might be interested in what role you worked in. Make sure you emphasise transferrable skills you developed and how they would fit the new role.
The other type of interviewer is someone who volunteers with a similar (or even the same) organisation. Instantly you have moved up from a anonymous candidate to someone with a shared network of contacts. These interviewers will also probably have pre-conceived ideas about what type of worker would volunteer for that organisation. Considering they enjoy that line of work too, this can only be a good thing for you.
Once you get a job it can be tempting to stop volunteering. For one, you probably don’t have as much free time as you did before. However, it’s important to keep up your volunteer habits. Not only will you continue to be a good influence in the community but you will keep developing skills and meeting people.
While you might be stoked to get a job, the fact is you won’t stay there for the rest of your life. When you go for your next job you will want the benefits that volunteering can bring you.