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Volunteering - a licence to feel good and a vehicle to propel your career

The recent flooding events and last year's fire season, provided plenty of news coverage showing people 'doing good', without the promise of financial reward.

Volunteering | A Vehicle to Propel Your Career

If you'd like to contribute to society, volunteering is a great way to make a difference in communities where you can see folk are hurting, or in an area of personal interest. But feeling good about helping is just one reason why choosing to volunteer can go in your favour.

Various licenses and accreditations are in high demand by volunteer groups, but they can also be a vehicle for promoting yourself to potential employers and even nailing your next interview. And, volunteering can be a great way to develop valuable new skills, like leadership and planning, for future roles too.

Volunteering | Fire Recovery & Replanting

So why volunteer?

There's plenty of reasons to get on board with volunteering.

Volunteering | Why Should you Volunteer

Because it matters

Thinking beyond the obvious charity shop and the Rural Fire Service, there are dozens of roles volunteers can play; caring for the environment, removing waste and debris after disasters, driving the elderly on a once-a-month outing or safety transporting our kids.

Making a difference in the lives of others is a key reason people volunteer. Take a moment to visualise our society without volunteers and you'll recognize how much it matters!

To gain a new skill

Volunteering | Gain New Skills

You know the dreaded catch 22 scenario? You're sure you want the job and you know you have the skills and the attitude, but the employer always asks for someone with experience! It's frustrating! But this is an issue that's not as tricky to fix as you might think.

Gaining new skills, in a situation where people truly value your contribution can really take the pressure off. You can consolidate your new skills and be ready when your target role pops up.

Volunteering | Volunteer Driving

Some driving roles are a good example of this and there are plenty of volunteering situations where individuals can gain hands-on practical skills for the construction industry. A WHS General Construction industry (White Card) might be required.

Volunteering | Volunteer in Construction Projects

Gain some current referees

If you haven't worked for a while, or you're just starting your career, it can be tricky to find people you trust, who can also confirm you do a great job. But having current referees is not only handy, it's often essential when applying for some roles.

Offering your services can gain you some serious cred when it comes to looking for work. Of course, that means you'll need to be reliable and seen to be doing a great job!

Volunteering is nearly as valuable, on your resume, as paid work

Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate passion or commitment to a cause. Imagine if you are applying for work as a bush regenerator within local government but you have already been planting trees and removing lantana with a conservation society?

Volunteering | Outreach

Don't underrate it! According to the recruitment platform SEEK, volunteering, and especially that which is relevant to a role you are applying for, is incredibly well regarded by employers. In fact, Seek says "85% of hirers believe it's just as credible as paid work".

Seek's research also found "a whopping 92% of employers said relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in job interviews" Seek on Volunteering

This is not difficult to imagine, provided you do a good job on your resume of connecting the dots between the skills you learn and the skills an employer is looking for. Think about the less tangible skills like time management, planning and creative thinking. Have a career practitioner help if you're unsure how to do this. After all, it's what they specialise in. Tandem Career Consulting helps with resume writing in Newcastle, can help connect your volunteering back to the job you're chasing and teach you how to describe the experience when preparing for a job interview.

Socialise and grow your network

Volunteering | Socialise and grow your networt

Time out of the workforce or working in a lonely job can really limit your very normal, human need for interaction with like-minded people. Volunteering, can provide an opportunity to stay connected. Nurturing a network of contacts is valuable from the perspective of your mental well-being but also in terms of future job opportunities.

After all, most opportunities happen out and about, not inside the walls of your loungeroom.

Gain an accreditation

Some volunteering roles will require a license or 'card' to confirm you have demonstrated competency in certain skills. This is usually to ensure the safety of volunteers, staff and the community.

Most agencies may simply require you to complete training which is specific to the type of volunteering services provided. But even these courses can be a great source of learning and be useful in terms of their transferrable skills. Eg. A volunteer organisation may train you on how to resolve conflicts, but think about the applicability of conflict resolution in workplace scenarios too.

If you're not currently working, its worth talking to your job search provider about courses they may fund on your behalf and how that training might be useful to your current or future job search. Or talk to us at 123 Training about the best option for you.

What can I do to get started?

If volunteering makes sense for you right now, where should you start and how can you choose an agency to serve?

If you've decided to volunteer for a cause that's dear to your heart, consider your hobbies and where you're likely to find people with shared interests. That way you'll be helping and enjoying yourself at the same time!

If you're volunteering to move your career in the right direction, think about the skills you could invest in right now and consider which skills might matter to you down the track, like leadership, managing teams or handling money. If this is the case, it may be useful to consider the size of the agency you volunteer for, as well.

A career guidance service like Tandem Career Consulting, can help you consider career values, preferred working environments and the future job market and whether these are congruent with your volunteering goals.

Do some research to find out what's available. Try these sites online.