Volunteering – A Great Way to Improve Your Career

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Who wouldn’t want to get involved in Volunteering when research shows volunteers live happier and healthier lives? I am a huge advocate of volunteering. For me the value of volunteering shouldn’t just be about what you get out of doing it and statistics show that most volunteers don’t do it for themselves.

I believe first and foremost it’s about giving, helping, supporting, donating your time, knowledge, expertise and/or skills to community groups, not-for-profit organisations and charities that rely on volunteers to survive. For me, my volunteering has always been driven by a cause that I am passionate about; I think that’s crucial.

In saying that, volunteering is also an amazing opportunity to grow and develop your career and I recommend to many individuals that I provide career transition coaching to that volunteering is definitely something they should consider. Regardless of if you are just starting out in your career, are looking to change directions with your career, have been made redundant or are transitioning out of the workforce and retiring, volunteering is absolutely something you should be investigating and considering getting involved in.

How can volunteering help you no matter what stage of your career you are in?

Starting out in your career

Unfortunately, it is not easy for young people to transition in to the workforce. I see plenty of resumes of young people trying to enter the workforce and their resumes are all exactly the same. Secondary school education details, hobbies and interests, basic skills and attributes. The resumes blur from one to another. If you want to stand out from the crowd and have a point of difference, get involved in volunteering. When trying to enter the workforce, volunteering is invaluable in getting you work ready. It allows you to develop and demonstrate skills and abilities rather than just bullet pointing them on your resume. Volunteering will build your networks and open doors for your career.

Changing Careers

Thinking about a change of career but nervous about taking the plunge in case you find the grass isn’t actually greener on the other side? Volunteering is a brilliant way to get a taste of what a new career path might be like. Volunteering in similar type roles, businesses and/or industries will give you first-hand experience of what a day in the life of your new career would actually be like. Sometimes when we investigate new career paths we look at those paths with rose coloured glasses and only see the positives. Volunteering allows you to see and get a taste for the pros and cons of a possible new career path.

Redundancy

Being made redundant is an emotional and challenging time. It’s a period of huge adjustment and when you suddenly go from having a job to go to every day, having responsibilities and being in a routine; you can feel lost when that disappears. Volunteering in this instance is invaluable. It will help you keep up a routine, break up your job search and be a good distraction so you don’t become completely absorbed and obsessed about finding your next job. It will give you people interaction, responsibilities and accountability. And through your volunteering you might just find a new career path or meet someone that can help you get a foot in the door with your next job. You just never know where opportunity knocks!

Transitioning out of the Workforce

Transitioning to retirement can be an exciting, daunting and overwhelming time. Regardless of whether you have made the decision to retire, stopping work or even reducing your hours to transition to retirement can be very challenging to adjust to. Work plays a very big part in most peoples lives. We spend so much of our lives at work and often our social networks intertwine with work so transitioning out of the workforce can impact on many aspects of our lives. I have seen many people retire yet return to the workforce months or years later because they feel lost with not having a job or they become bored in retirement. Volunteering is a great way to assist and support your transition to retirement. It can give you a new focus and a new passion. It will break up your week and help you establish a new routine. You’ll meet new people and by volunteering you will still be able to use your mind, remain challenged and contribute to your community.

Here are some further examples of why you should give volunteering a go:

  • It’s your opportunity to give back and make a difference. Help make your community a better place.
  • You’ll meet new people and build relationships with others that you normally wouldn’t cross paths with.
  • Volunteering provides different insights and perspectives into what’s happening in your community.
  • Depending on what type of volunteering you do, it will develop skills such as communication, interpersonal, time management, attention to detail, influencing, negotiating, presenting. The skill development opportunities are endless.
  • You’ll be presented with opportunities to learn and understand the importance of good governance, risk management, compliance, financial management etc.
  • It’s an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and expertise with others; contributing to their growth and development.
  • Volunteering will often require you to think innovatively and solve problems or overcome challenges with out of the box solutions.
  • It will develop your skills in working as a team to achieve a common goal, with people from all walks of life.
  • Volunteering will teach you a lot about yourself – your values, what you stand for, what’s important to you.

Regardless of what stage of your career you are in, volunteering will help you develop new skills and abilities and further enhance your existing skills and abilities. Volunteering looks impressive on a resume; it gives the recruiter an insight in to who you are outside of work, what your interests and passions are and what you value. If you are in a career rut, keep missing out on those promotions or think it’s time for a complete career change, look in to volunteering. It’s guaranteed to improve your career.

There is lots of great information and research on volunteering as well as details about current volunteering opportunities at Volunteering Australia. Volunteering is a win – win for everyone and it’s a contribution you’ll never regret making.

Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.

 

Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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