Not ‘just’ volunteering: five ways to give your voluntary role the credit it deserves

In last week’s blog, Claire Allison, fourth year Psychology and Linguistics student, shared her experience as a Listening Volunteer with Samaritans. In today’s blog, Claire outlines, from a student perspective, how volunteering is a great CV enhancer.

Volunteering provides an ideal opportunity to pick up new skills and build relevant experience for an area that you would like a career in. Despite this, people can fall into the trap of framing it as ‘lesser’ than a paid role and fail to give it the spotlight it deserves on CVs and applications. Here are five ways to avoid that trap:

1. Highlight skills

Regardless of where you volunteer or what your role is, it will require skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving. Focus on these skills by addressing parts of the person specification in an application. Connect them to the role you are applying for so that you can tell a prospective employer exactly how they will transfer over into the advertised role.

2. Show the strengths of working for free

The fact that you don’t get paid shows your passion, drive and work ethic. Don’t be afraid to go into detail of exactly why you volunteer. These reasons are unique to you, and will give a prospective employer an idea of where your motivations come from and what your values are.

3. Emphasise time

Your time is a valuable resource, and you are choosing to put that resource into your voluntary position. You can evidence time management skills by showing how you balance volunteering duties alongside university studies.

4. Add your extras

Many voluntary roles require various training elements. These could include a first aid course, so list the training you’ve undertaken perhaps under the heading of ‘Additional Experience’ and reflect on the skills you’ve gained. Training courses for continued development are a great way of building on your experience and making you stand out from the crowd.

5. Get a reference

It might be that your voluntary work is more related to the career you’re interested in. If this is the case, ask your coordinator/supervisor if you can name them as a referee in future job applications.

Thanks Claire.

Once you have applied these techniques, you are welcome to come along to our Information and Advice drop-ins for quick feedback on your CV or application – no need to book.

(Image credit: Ray_Shrewsberry on Pixabay)


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