How to sell your volunteering experience
Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate numerous skills and do something for others with your free time, and there’s no free time like being a student!
You’ve got some great volunteering experience, but how do you use that experience to get yourself a job now?
Fit it to the role you’re applying for
In lots of cases the volunteering you are doing can be applied to the job you want to do. If you volunteer to read with Year 3s and want to be a teacher, you’ve got it easy. However, some volunteering roles aren’t as obviously relatable, so you have to think outside of the box. If you want to go into a career that involves a lot of writing and volunteer at a charity shop, have you done any writing for them? Maybe you’ve written and designed flyers or labels for items? Alternatively, go even further. The main topics aren’t related, but the volunteering you do is very early on a Saturday morning and has required regular commitment and time management, which are important for any job. Which leads to…
Highlight the skills it has developed
Think of all the applicable skills that are useful in the world of work, especially if you’ve not done any paid work yet. These include teamwork, dedication, the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, empathy and the desire to help others. Other suggestions include leadership, problem-solving, communication. You probably don’t want a spiel of these things on your CV, but think about which ones apply to you and keep them in mind when you start attending interviews.
Demonstrate any training you’ve had to undertake
When you started as a volunteer, did you do any initial training? What did it teach you? Chances are you will have learned something that is not just useful for this particular volunteering role. On my CV I briefly discuss an intensive weekend of training I did for a volunteering position, which can represent the ability to learn quickly and work especially hard outside of the normal hours of work.
Emphasise your experience
Think about how many hours you have dedicated to your volunteering role. If you’ve completed a significant number of hours of volunteering, this is a really good sign of your dedication, so be sure to highlight it on your CV. Some universities, schools or volunteering coordinators will hand out certificates for completing a certain number of hours, so check out if this is applicable and if it is, it’s a great addition to the awards section of your CV.
How did you sell your volunteering experience at interview or on your CV? Tell us below.
Photo: Natesh Ramasamy / Flickr