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How your career could get a boost with the right volunteering

Not only can volunteers learn new skills while helping communities but also this experience can give a handy boost to a CV

Many people think about taking a career break or a traditional gap year between leaving university and starting work, with it becoming more commonplace to do voluntary work at home or abroad during this time rather than travelling the world as a tourist.

Some employers are also keen for their staff to undertake volunteering programmes due to the difference it can make to local communities. Projects such as Volunteering Matters, which has been running for more than 24 years, provide a service to employers that want to develop their business volunteering programmes. The organisation states that 91 per cent of volunteers felt an increased sense of pride in working for their company, 86 per cent of volunteers felt their work had an impact on the local community, and 85 per cent felt more positive about their employer.

This means it is a win-win situation – employers are seen in a much better light, employees feel more satisfied (and may therefore work even harder!), and communities benefit from their input. By using an organisation such as Volunteering Matters, companies can match their employees’ preferences with the needs of local people through projects such as mentoring in schools, within families, restoring open spaces or sharing their skills with charitable groups.

With many companies trying to get more out of their employees, a volunteering process will benefit employers by increasing their workers’ skills. Employees benefit through the feel-good factor in addition to boosting their chances of promotion or getting another job. A Deloitte survey, Building Leadership Skills Through Volunteerism, revealed that 82 per cent of recruiters were more likely to pick a candidate with voluntary experience on their CV.

Skill-based volunteer work is preferred, with potential employers seeing this as a great way to develop leadership skills. More than nine in 10 recruiters agreed that volunteering improves a person’s broader professional skills. They understand – and can play to – their strengths and learn how to be effective while boosting self-esteem; in addition, volunteering is a great chance to build networks and relationships within the wider community.

In addition to being a positive thing for employees to do, volunteering is good for the long-term unemployed; for example, it can increase their sense of worth, broaden their social networks and help them to be confident enough or learn new skills to get back into employment. It also shows potential employers that this person is hard-working and committed enough to work for no financial reward.

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