One of the (many) great things about doing your DofE is that you’ll have been introduced to volunteering – whether you volunteered in a charity shop, helped out as a Young Leader for the Scouts or undertook marine conservation for a wildlife organisation. Hopefully, you’ll have enjoyed it, given something back and now have a few tales to tell, whatever the level you have reached. Well, your CV is a great place to tell these tales.
A DofE survey of over 500 UK business leaders found that 86% look favourably on candidates who share evidence of volunteering and other extracurricular activities on their social media. 95% also believe that extra-curricular activities like the DofE, which help to develop soft skills, are just as important on your CV as academic qualifications.
Adding volunteering to your CV puts you ahead of most people your age. Yes, it shows that you’re prepared to give up your time for a worthy cause, but come job hunting time the most important thing is that you’re able to showcase your transferable skills that are so valued by employers. So what is it that you learnt during your volunteering?
1. To be a team player. Never underestimate how important this is. Your boss will want you to fit in and play your part – just like you did when you volunteered. When employers choose a new member of staff, they’re looking at more than just their qualifications – imagine working everyday with someone who starts arguments, ignores others and is generally unpleasant to be around. Show them you can get on with others and use your volunteering experience to illustrate this.
2. To solve problems. Volunteering is a positive experience – and having staff with a positive attitude is what every company wants. They’re easier to manage, more productive and generally more positive to be around. At the heart of this is the ability to problem solve. Anyone can see a problem, but it takes someone special to find a solution. Often at interviews, no matter what level you’re at, you’ll be asked to recount a situation where there was a problem. Prepare beforehand, think back to examples from your DofE and your volunteering, and explain how you overcame the difficulty.
3. To give good customer service. Your volunteering is bound to have bought you into contact with other people who may not have been straightforward to deal with. If so, you’re perfectly placed to claim excellent customer service skills. If you can give an example of where you went above and beyond in your volunteering, businesses will know their company and brand are in safe hands; the most critical thing for any business.
4. To self-manage. Volunteering shows initiative – and that’s what your boss is looking for. Remember those times you had to deal with a new situation, learning as you went – well that’s what your new boss wants too. They want to be confident that they can hand over responsibility of work to you and trust you not to let them down. Well, tell them at interview; show how you handled stressful situations, give examples of times you reacted quickly and positively, that you knew how to manage yourself – and demonstrate these through your volunteering.
5. To work. Just because you weren’t paid doesn’t mean you weren’t working. You already have an advantage over any other candidate who’s never had a job. Take confidence from that and benefit from it.
Once you’ve worked through all of the above and found examples from your volunteering and DofE programme, you’ll have a great package of detailed, interesting and valuable skills to add to your CV – helping you make that all-important first impression. You might find it helpful to use our CV template to help you create a CV that best highlights these skills and your experience to potential employers – giving you the best possible chance of getting that job.