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Why voluntary work can be important for your CV
If you have a CV showing many years of work experience, then voluntary work will still have a small positive effect on your chances of gaining an interview.
However, for school leavers, voluntary work can be an essential part of their core work experience and may be the only thing to rely on to prove to the employer they have what it takes to be an integral part of their company.
Show you don’t mind ‘grafting’
When you give up your time to work for free to help an organisation, charity or local country park – whether doing secretarial / administrative tasks or something entirely different – you are instantly showing the employer that you’re not afraid of hard work. When a hiring manager reads a CV they may find it difficult to get an impression of your work stamina, and this is where voluntary work experience comes into its own.
Show you’re not afraid of ‘overtime’
Following on from the hard working point above, it also shows the employer that you’re not afraid to put in the hours, including overtime. Depending on the role, most companies offer overtime and/or expect it from some employers.
Obviously this will be explained to you during the interview – however, you are already one step ahead by showing the employer on your CV that you are giving up your time for free. Overtime isn’t always paid, and whether it is or it isn’t, you are clearly someone who is happy to work extra hours when the company needs it.
For a school leaver, taking on voluntary work shows a great deal of initiative to an employer. It could have been far easier to just sit at home looking for work, but instead you decided to get off your bottom and get stuck in during this period of search.
You may also have been carrying out voluntary work during the weekend whilst you studied in the week, which really does show a hard working individual.
Give yourself much-needed work experience
It is possible to have a part time job whilst studying at college or university, so this would of course be great work experience for your CV – and for you of course! Part time work and voluntary work are both great ways of gaining experience for your CV and will impress any employer who is fully aware of the fact that you’ve only recently left education.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and assuming your first crack at a job interview is for a lower level position or apprenticeship, you are going to be up against lots of other school leavers who may not have the work experience you already have.
Help to keep your CV looking busy
As a school leaver you would obviously be struggling a little to complete a two page CV given your lack of work experience. Voluntary work is a great way to fill out your CV, and something you can definitely focus upon.
Don’t be afraid to make it a focal point of your CV, explaining what you did and what you achieved during your time. A list of tasks and responsibilities is already showing an employer what you’re capable of without the need for any training on certain basics like communication, handling transactions, resolving customer complaints, and much more.
Boost your own personal development
Aside from your CV looking great, voluntary work is overall a fantastic way to begin your development into the world of work. Interaction is very different to what you’re used to, and there are lots of new challenges each and every day to overcome.
Having to meet deadlines, be punctual, polite, respectful, helpful to customers, learning new skills, and so on are all great new skills to continue to perfect and develop. You are certainly much better off volunteering rather than sat at home waiting for the phone to ring. You are missing out on so many work and life skills if you don’t keep busy!
Grab a great reference
Voluntary work is a great way to gain references which otherwise would be unattainable. This is why it’s also very important to take voluntary work very seriously, and not just something to fill your time whilst looking for paid work.
To get a great reference you need to work hard in everything you do, and this also goes for volunteering. Give it everything you have and you just might find that great reference gets you the job!
NB : This CV was originally published 11th July 2017 and has now been completely updated for 2020.