Do any of the following apply to you?
- Are you looking for a job but don’t have the experience you need? But you can’t get experience because you can’t get a job?
- Do you need more skills or a better network so you can find work?
- Are you thinking of making a change in your career but unsure about what you want to do?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, volunteering could be the boost your career needs.
When you volunteer, you share your skills and time with people and organizations in the community without expecting to be paid. Volunteering can give you a chance to build your experience and skills, and demonstrate your employability.
Discover 6 ways volunteering can help you reach your career goals
- Volunteering gives you experience.
Most employers want workers who have workplace experience. Volunteer experience shows employers that you can manage your time and complete your tasks. It also shows that you can get along with others and make a commitment. Your volunteer record can show an employer that you have the attitudes and skills they are looking for in a potential employee.
- Volunteering helps you develop skills.
Volunteering gives you a chance to build on skills you already have and learn new ones. For example, as a volunteer you might be able to use your second language or public speaking skills. You could also learn a new computer program or develop new customer service skills.
If you’re employed, you may want to look for volunteer opportunities that strengthen skills you have but are not currently using in your work. For example, if you work on your own in a parts warehouse, volunteering at a festival could help you maintain and improve your people skills.
Be realistic about your current skill level when you apply to volunteer. An organization may need people whose skill level is more advanced than yours in the position you want. Seek opportunities to develop your skills so that you can later qualify for a more challenging position.
- Volunteering expands your network.
Your network is all the people you know and all the people they know. Volunteering gives you the chance to meet new people and expand your network. Keep a list of the contacts you make while volunteering. These include staff, board members, clients, other volunteers and suppliers. You never know who might help you and how.
- Volunteering lets you check out an occupation or industry.
When you’re considering choosing a career direction or thinking about a career change, volunteering gives you a chance to explore different occupations and industry sectors. You get to know the people, challenges and rewards involved. You also 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 program administrators.
Volunteer experience in a specific field or industry can make your resumé or application stand out. This holds true when you’re competing for a job or applying to a post-secondary program in that field. For example, volunteer experience at an animal shelter might increase your chances of being admitted to an animal health technology program.
- Volunteering builds your confidence.
Maintaining your confidence is especially important if you’ve been unemployed for a while. It also helps when you are discouraged in your search for a new job or career direction. Volunteering can help you feel active, useful and productive.
- Volunteering helps you get to know yourself.
Knowing your skills, accomplishments, interests and values is the foundation of career success. Volunteer experience can be a good 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.
Volunteering is a win-win situation. By helping others, you have the opportunity to boost not only your career but also your own well-being. When you volunteer in a role that’s right for you, everybody comes out ahead.