Updated: Dec 14, 2019
In my role as an Employment Consultant, I work with a varied group of women (and men) from diverse walks of life. In my discussions with them, I often find that when the subject of Volunteering is broached, they run a mile. Most of the responses I get often includes: "I have better things to do than to volunteer", "why volunteer and give my time away when I can use that time to benefit myself"and the most common of all, I'm not going to volunteer my time for free.
But, here's the thing slayers, as someone who actively volunteered through my teens up to my mid-twenties, volunteering was paramount in my gaining experience in media writing and moving on to launching and running an award-winning online magazine for 8 years.
Volunteering has its pros and they without a shadow of a doubt out-way the cons.
1. Volunteering will give you up-to-date work reference
It honestly doesn't matter how much skills, experience or qualifications you possess as if you don't have check-able and contactable reference details, you cannot get the career/job you want. At present, employers can now request up to 4 four references and many people become complacent when writing 'References available on request' on their CV and forget that they need to have these details to hand. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to gain up-to-date and current references and the more volunteering opportunities you undertake, the more references you can accumulate.
2. Helps you to enhance your current skill sets and gain new ones
It doesn't matter what industry you choose to volunteer with, the chances are; you will always get the opportunity to gain new skills and learn new ways to work as well as skills that you didn't have before. If you did already have the skill, volunteering in a new organisation will enable you to learn different ways of working.
3. Encourages you to be more social and meet new people
A study conducted in 2018 suggested that approximately nine million people in the UK say that they often feel lonely and struggle to make meaningful connections. Much of this is down to social media with many people 'living their best lives' online but are unable to connect with anyone face to face. Aside from the invaluable skills that you will pick up, Volunteering will allow you to meet different people who you can not only share your experiences with but may also be able to make new friends with. The act of volunteering allows scope for you to become more social and step out of your comfort zone.
4. May lead to employment opportunities and further career development
Dependent on where you decide to venture to to gain your voluntary experience, you may find that after a period of committing your time to their organisation, job opportunities may present themselves. The benefits to your volunteering with them would be endless. You would already have built up some insight into their organisation and more vitally; they would have gained insight into who you are and what skills and talents you have to bring to the table.
5. Will help to 'overide' gaps in your CV
For many people who are actively looking for employment or seeking a change in career path one of the biggest barriers they come up against are gaps in their CV. These gaps may have happened due to illness, studying, travelling, caring for a sick relative, etc. Potential employers are often put off by gaps and choose to overlook candidates CV's if they have too many. Volunteering is a fantastic way to override gaps and show that you are serious about your career and your overall development.
6. Will directly/indirectly allow you to improve the lives of others
Volunteering may be beneficial to you in many ways but it is also a fantastic way for you to give your time and skill over to help the lives of others. Whether you are helping to tidy clothes in a charity shop or working in another charities head office. Your skills and experience are making an active contribution to the community and the efforts of that organisation.
7. Increase your confidence/self-esteem
With all of the happenings which take place in daily life, you are one of the few who are using their time in a way that will positively impact their life. By embarking on your volunteering journey, the chances are; you will find out more about yourself and gain a deeper insight into what you are made of. You may find your confidence in your abilities as well as your overall self-esteem may increase.
By Sasha Bennett @Women_Who_Slay_