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Career Advice

How Volunteering Can Help To Boost Your Career

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated May 4, 2020

Since the call went out for people to join the NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme, over 750,000 people have signed up.  In addition to this, thousands of others have volunteered to work with charities who are tirelessly supporting vulnerable people in the community.  As well as the satisfaction you get from helping those in need, from an employment perspective, having volunteer experience on your CV can help you to stand out in a competitive job market. 

Why volunteering can make you more employable 

As well as getting a great sense of achievement from helping those less fortunate than yourself, volunteering can also help: 
  • Strengthen your existing soft skills and develop new ones
While some volunteering roles may offer training, you may have to ‘learn as you go’  which can involve drawing on skills you already have or developing new ones.  Depending on the role you take, volunteering can strengthen your leadership, communication, organisation and teamwork skills. All of which are highly sought after by employers. 
  • Broaden your professional network
Volunteering is an amazing way to broaden your professional and personal network and connect with those who are outside of your industry. As well as benefiting you personally through new friendships, over time these connections could open up new avenues for finding work.  As part of a job offer, a potential employer may ask for a reference from your current or previous employer or from someone who knows you in a professional capacity. If you have a limited work history, maybe because you’re a recent graduate, someone you know through your volunteering work may agree to act as a referee for you. 
  • Show employers you have empathy 
People who volunteer tend to be empathetic. This means they’re able to understand and share the feelings of others. Employers value employees who can demonstrate empathy because it’s a sign that they’ll be able to get along with colleagues and they can handle issues without conflict. These are highly desirable workplace skills. 

Companies who value volunteering 

If you’re passionate about volunteering and want to be able to continue with it while working, here are five companies that offer paid volunteering days: 

Experian

Experian is a global company that analyses data for financial reports. It’s best known as being a credit score agency.  On the Experian Glassdoor Company profile, Experian states it offers employees three volunteer days each year. 

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Barclays

Barclays is one of the UK’s leading financial institutions, offering both commercial and personal finance.  Reviews left on Barclays Glassdoor Company profile state that as a company Barclays encourage its employees to partake in volunteering and fundraising efforts.  

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Sage

Sage is a global provider of bookkeeping and accounting software for small to medium businesses.  It’s passionate about supporting charities in the locations it operates in. As stated on Sage’s Glassdoor Company profile, “through the Sage Foundation staff are encouraged to participate in five volunteering days each year.” 

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Lloyds Banking Group 

Lloyds Banking is one of the UK’s oldest financial institutions. It specialises in both commercial and personal finance.  As stated in the Benefits section of Lloyds Banking Group Glassdoor profile, employees are offered one volunteer day a year under the company’s ‘Day to make a difference scheme.’

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British Airways 

British Airways is the UK’s national airline carrier and from airports across the UK, it flies to around 183 global destinations.  Volunteering is listed as a benefit on British Airways Glassdoor Company profile, and in 2019 it launched a partnership with the British Red Cross to support UK communities who are in crisis. 

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RELATED: 9 Companies That Offer Corporate Volunteering Days

How to detail your volunteering experience on your CV

Whether you’re a recent graduate or a professional who is looking to make their next career move, listing volunteering activities on your CV can help to persuade a recruiter or employer that your attitude and skills match what they’re looking for.   There are a couple of ways you can detail your volunteering experience on your CV: 
  • If the volunteer role is somehow related to the job you’re after or if you have a limited work history, you could include it in the Work History section, but make it clear it was a volunteer role. For example:
Communications Coordinator, British Red Cross - May ‘19 to September ‘19, Volunteer Underneath this heading use bullet points to list your responsibilities. 
  • If the volunteer role isn’t related to the job in question, or if you’ve undertaken a series of short volunteer roles, you can create a separate section on your CV called Volunteer Experience. This should come after the Work Experience section and before Education. 
Use the following format to detail your volunteer roles:  Admin Assistant, British Food Bank - May ‘19 to September ‘19  List your responsibilities underneath using a bullet list. Where possible, try to tailor this list to match what’s mentioned on the job specification, as this will improve your chances of your application progressing further. 

Discussing your volunteering activities in an interview 

If you are invited for an interview the recruiter or employer has obviously been impressed by your CV.  The interview is your chance to demonstrate your personality and discuss in detail how your skills and experience that you’ve gained through volunteering or employment make you the best candidate for the job.  A question that recruiters or employers often like to open an interview with is ‘Tell us about yourself?’  This type of open-ended question can throw some people as they’re not sure what to include. If you’re asked this at the start of an interview, use it as an opportunity to discuss your volunteering experience, adding what hard and soft skills it has helped you to acquire.  Throughout the rest of the interview, weave examples from both your volunteering and work experience into your responses to validate the points you’re making.  RELATED: How To Answer Some Of The Toughest Interview Questions An interview is a two-way process, so use this opportunity to find out more about the company’s mission and values, and judge whether these align with your personal beliefs.  RELATED: 5 Questions To Ask To Find Out If A Company Lives Its Values banner 1 1024x276
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