While offering your services for free may seem like a strange way to launch a high-flying career, the truth is that few things can boost your job prospects more dramatically than your volunteer experience. Here we will look at some of the many reasons why giving back is a great way to get ahead, regardless of your industry, field or sector.
1. Build your network
Well-placed connections will always be an advantage and volunteering can build your network extremely quickly. Choosing your events strategically will increase your chances of crossing paths with movers and shakers in your industry, though helping out at random events is also well worthwhile as you never know who you might meet. Just don’t forget that you are there to do a job and not to promote yourself; otherwise, you risk having your efforts remembered for all the wrong reasons.
2. Get experience
It can be tough convincing a prospective employer to take a chance on you if you have no experience doing what they want and need you to do, but rather than sit around cursing the irony of your no job/no experience quandary fill some of those holes in your skill set by volunteering. Taking on a diverse range of roles will build your skills, knowledge and confidence quickly and make you a far more valuable member of any team.
3. Trial a career
It can be hard to tell what a particular role will be like until you have tried it out yourself but volunteering can save you hours of guesswork by providing that up-close look you need. While you may not be able to take on your dream role right away – especially if it is a highly specialised position – volunteering in even a somewhat related capacity can provide a valuable insight into what the industry is all about.
4. Make a positive impression
Donating your time and energy shows that you are interested in more than just money and your effort, commitment and generosity are sure to be noticed. Volunteering provides a marvellous opportunity to showcase some of your more qualitative skills as well, such as your tireless work ethic, leadership qualities and friendly personality. There is also a lot to be said for enlarging the pool of people willing to sing your praises, just in case you need a reference one day.
5. Practice makes perfect
Volunteering can be a great way to put newly acquired skills and knowledge into practice without the stress, attention and pressure of being in a paid position. Whether you are fresh out of school, have recently switched careers or are returning to work after a long absence, volunteering lets you ease into the role so you can hone your talents and build your confidence gradually.
If you feel like your career has been stuck on hold lately, try volunteering. Aside from doing wonders to kick-start your progress, nothing compares to the feeling you get from tackling a project with a group of strangers and achieving it together.