Five ways volunteering supports your career

One of the (many) great things about doing your DofE is that you’ll have been introduced to volunteering. Hopefully, you’ll have enjoyed it, given something back and now have a few stories to tell. Well, your CV, university or college applications and job interviews are the best place to begin telling those stories.

Adding volunteering to your CV puts you ahead of most people your age. Yes, it shows how generous with your time you are. But, come job-hunting time, the most important thing is that you’ll be able to showcase your soft 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 activity and having staff with a positive attitude is what every company wants. They’re easier to manage, more productive and generally more pleasant to have 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 brought 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, employers 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 and 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 volunteering as part of your DofE, you’ll have a great package of detailed, interesting and sometimes entertaining answers ready to wow any future employer.

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