Volunteers in blue t-shirts planting a garden

Alongside making a difference to those you are working with, volunteering can also give you a boost, whether it’s to your confidence or your professional reputation. Here are six great ways that volunteering can play an important role in your career: 

Develop New Skills and Gain Experience

If you lack a specific skill, volunteering can be a great way to gain experience in areas your current or past jobs didn't provide, as well as build on the skills you already have. For example, you may want to learn more about marketing, or work with a people that you don’t encounter in your everyday life.

You can also use volunteering to gather information and find out a little bit more about what exactly you’re looking for in regards to your career. Perhaps you’ve always worked for a large company and are curious about what life is like with a smaller nonprofit. Or maybe you’re itching to find out a little bit more about what it’s like to work in a startup environment.

When you out your volunteering experience on your CV list the organisation and dates of your service, and instead of using the title "volunteer," use your responsibilities as a title—"marketing manager" or “mentor." Mention your accomplishments, results, or awards like any other job.

Meet new Networking Contacts

If you choose to volunteer in a role which uses your current skills and work experience you’ll find that others will do the same. It’s a great way to network, meet new people and find out about new job opportunities without it feeling unnatural or forced. You’ll be able to show off your personality and the skills you do have in a positive environment. 

Keep a list of the contacts you make while volunteering, including staff, board members, clients, other volunteers and suppliers. And remember to always return the favour if someone asks you about your experience or a new job opportunity. 

Boost your Confidence

Volunteering can give you opportunities to mentor, tutor, plan events and activities or work in the back office, and really do impact peoples' lives.

It’s a self-esteem booster for anyone, as you can see the impact you are having, however this is especially true for those who are out of work. By volunteering, you are not viewed by others with the unemployed label, but someone whose services and skills are needed and are useful. You’ll feel as though you are a productive member of a team. 

Impress Employers with your Ambition

Showing that you have a charitable side to potential employers displays a good cultural fit. It shows that you are motivated, are good at organising your time, and can work with lots of different types of people. It shows that you are positive and passionate, and take in interest in things other than yourself, and can be the difference between you and another candidate getting the job.

Discover New Careers and Hidden Talents

Deciding on your future career is difficult if you don’t know what’s out there and what skills you’ve got. By volunteering, you might realise that you have a knack for something you weren’t expecting or really enjoy certain aspects of volunteering, whether it’s working with children or creating digital flyers for the charity’s social media.

You never would have gotten this experience or this knowledge about yourself without volunteering, and it could be a springboard to something new.

If it’s possible in your current job, try to take on projects that involve your new-found love, and find out whether it’s feasible to make a lateral move with the skills and experience you have. 

If you are really interested in it, but it’s a completely different career direction, going back into education and getting some more official more work experience might be the career route for you!

If you have no idea what you want to do, but want to find out more about an industry and the occupations, challenges and rewards within that industry, volunteering is a great way to gain a better understanding of the roles and jobs available. For example, as a hospital volunteer you’re exposed to a wide range of health care workers, from front-line nursing and doctors to programme administrators, and you might just chance upon your dream career!

Get to Know the Real You!

Volunteering is a great way to learn more about yourself and your potential to grow and develop. It also gives you a chance to find out how other people view you and your strengths.