What is Volunteering?
Volunteering is where you give your time and skills to support charitable organisations, not-for-profits, or other good causes in your local community.
When many people think of volunteering, they automatically think of working in charity shops and sorting through donations, but the truth is there’s A LOT you can get involved with!
From administration to social media management, graphic design to fundraising, and even helping at festivals and other community events. Whatever you want to get involved in, there’s usually a pathway to it through volunteering.
Volunteering is an excellent way to support causes and issues you care about, and it has the bonus of boosting your job readiness.
What is Job Readiness?
Job readiness is the term we use to describe being ready for work. It’s more than simply being the right age or available for work too.
It encompasses all of the good behaviours you’ll need to be aware of that make you a positive employee in the workplace. This includes things like:
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Communications Skills
- Time Management and Organisation
- Ability to Manage Priorities and Competing Demands
- And many more!
5 Ways Volunteering Builds Job Readiness
Volunteering is usually unpaid, but it’s still very much a valid form of work, and it can really help you learn the skills you’ll need for future job opportunities.
Here are five ways we know it can help:
- Boost Your Confidence
Getting started in the world of work can feel daunting: you’ll create a new routine, meet new people, and there will be new expectations of you and how you behave. When you’re not sure what’s expected from you, it can create all sorts of anxiety.
Volunteering is a great way to start developing your general workplace behaviours and learning what’s expected from you in a more professional setting. It’s slightly less pressure than a ‘proper’ job and a great way to grow your confidence and job readiness.
- Hone Your Specific Skills
When applying for most jobs, you’ll need to demonstrate on your resume and application how you have the skills and knowledge relevant to the role. Volunteering experience can help you grow both your general and specific skills.
For example, volunteering in a retail op-shop can help you develop customer service skills, cashier and money handling skills, stock control, and teamwork. Volunteering as a fundraiser can help you build communication skills, negotiation, problem-solving, and relationship-building.
- Develop Professional Relationships
People from all walks of life volunteer and engage with community or not-for-profit organisations. Whether it’s through events, workshops, or simply volunteering themselves, getting involved can help introduce you to a whole new set of people you might not meet otherwise.
This can help you grow your professional network and professional relationships, which can be beneficial in the future for learning about new opportunities or securing professional references.
- Positive Experiences to Talk About
Lots of young people say they don’t know what to say or how to respond to common interview questions. Well, one thing volunteering will definitely help you with is answering those questions!
You’ll get exposure to a broad range of activities, tasks, and challenges. These are perfect to help you grow personally and professionally, but they’ll also mean you have plenty of great examples to talk about when you go for interviews.
- Demonstrates Commitment & Motivation
A big concern for some employers when hiring young people is whether they’ll be committed to the role and motivated to engage with challenges (and the monotonous tasks that come with many jobs!).
Volunteering experience on your resume demonstrates a regular commitment to something you care about. It signals very clearly to potential employers that you’re motivated to go after the things that matter to you, and you’re not afraid to get stuck in and help in any way you can.
3 Places to Find Volunteer Experience
One of the most important things to think about when looking for the right volunteer experience for you is what you’re passionate about.
Don’t just get involved based on what you think you’ll get out of it – make sure you chose to help an organisation or cause that matters to you, and you’ll find the experience so much more rewarding.
There are lots of great websites that collate volunteering experiences and where you can find opportunities local to you. Here are three we recommend for starters: