Volunteer for your Career

I was looking for a great article about the value of volunteering for a client and when I couldn’t find one, I decided to write my own. In truth, the articles I found were aimed at school pupils and students not experienced hires, like it is something you should stop doing after you’ve found your first role….

Volunteering is another one of these careery words that has too narrow a definition perhaps. For the purpose of this article, let’s call them experiences that develop you while helping someone else…

I can honestly say that each role that I’ve been hired for in the public and third sector, when I made a change from the private sector, had a link to previous volunteering experiences. In fact, some volunteering I did as a student helped me demonstrate passion for a cause nearly 20 years later which combined with my management skills landed me my first role in career education.

A recent client has just started a role, which he can design for himself, within a charity he had volunteered for on and off prior to being made redundant.

I think the thing that perhaps puts people off is a misplaced perception of the types of roles available as well as a fear of becoming over-committed. Just like everything else, I’d advise you choose a volunteering role that fits into your lifestyle, interests and skills and there are so many options when you look at the big picture.

Want to pivot to the sports industry? How about you volunteer as a marshal at a ParkRun or steward at a venue. Interested in the conservation sector? Then plan your holidays around an archaeological dig or tree planting project. Looking for more meaning? Donate your professional skills to the board of a local trust or charity.

Aspire to a role working for a high-profile festival? Offer to volunteer at a local one first.

Want to give something back while figuring out what comes next? Practice telling your story to school pupils or students who want to learn about your industry.

None of these are super time-consuming but each will help organisations that rely on volunteers and at the same time help you test out how you really feel about your interest before you take a bigger step. It also expands your understanding of a new sector, giving you access to opportunities you may not have been aware of. Even if it proves to not be for you it complements your CV and shows recruiters that you are proactive and community minded.

Volunteering is not an overnight fix but a strategic tactic to widen your perspective and your network as part of an overall career change strategy. And if you don’t even know where to begin, check out some of these websites that are designed to connect volunteers with the right opportunity for them.