5 ways volunteering can help you get your first job

There's no getting away from it - the job market is tough. Especially for those wanting to get on the first rung of the career ladder. It’s scary enough thinking about the possibility of not finding work, without the media ramming the difficulties down our throat.

Fear not! Your time in education and that time between education and employment is the perfect time to gain skills, experience and insight to the working world. And all whilst having a positive impact on society.es! Volunteering can sort me out!

Here are five reasons why volunteering can be that first stepping stone to your first job.

1. Develop important skills
A good volunteer placement can give you some great transferable skills that will be useful in most paid positions.

These could include:
•Communicating efficiently with members of staff and other volunteers
•Answering the phone in the correct manner
•Customer service
•Event support
•Using social media skills
•Organising your email inbox
•Managing your time effectively
•Admin tasks (yes, you can include photocopying in that).

All of these skills are going to help you in your quest for employment! If you’re volunteering in an area you know you’re keen to work in, you’ll be learning job specific skills too.

2. Gain an insight
Volunteering is a great way to surf the market. You get the flexibility to try out lots of different positions in a variety of areas. You can get an idea of what you like and what you don’t like. Hopefully you’ll find an organisation or a field in which you’re keen to work. You might also realise exactly what you don’t want to do, which is all good as it simply narrows the field and enables you to be more specific in your job hunt.

3. Get into the routine
Starting a job can be a shock to the system. Figuring out transport routes (and getting around any pesky delays), waking up earlier, not going to the pub with your mates on a weeknight (well we can at least try to resist), being in a structured environment, and set times for lunch. Volunteering allows you to get used to this way of life. Treat your placement like it’s a job – be committed, be on time, plan your journey. You’re allowed more flexibility in volunteering, but if you’re regularly late to a job, you’re not likely to last very long!

4. Make an impression
Volunteering gives you a chance to make a great impression with potential employers. This could either be the organisation that you’re volunteering for, or through many of the other individuals, groups and employers that you’ll be coming into contact with. Make sure you’re always on top of your game. You never know what opportunities may come up and who might be taking a keen interest in your work.

5. Give yourself a competitive edge
There’s going to be lots of other people just like you. People looking for work, trying to gain as much experience as possible. It’s a competitive world. Volunteering immediately puts you ahead of those that don’t have the experience.

And just to back us up, this is what our friends at the Premier League (that's right - the Premier League!!) think:

“Volunteering is extremely important because it gives young people so many transferable skills...as well as being able to add more skills to their CV, volunteering also gives young people confidence and a can-do attitude which is so beneficial in the working world." William Bush - Director of Policy, Premier League

So if you’re struggling to find work or want to boost your employability whilst still studying, why not see it as an opportunity to give volunteering a go. Check out vinspired.com to see what’s available near you and what programmes you can get involved with.

By Dan Bond
Posted on 06 March 2014
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