When you think about it, volunteering helps out in all sorts of ways – not least benefiting life-changing causes around the world. And sparing some of your free time to make a difference can also give you a big boost when it comes to applying for certain higher education courses.
If you've been thinking of helping out in the local community lately, then consider this article as some extra encouragement. Below, we'll go into the benefits of volunteering, the skills you can learn from it and how to frame your experience on a course application, CV and at interview.
What are the Benefits of Volunteering?
For people looking to jump into further education, volunteering has plenty of benefits, many of which can make course applications and CVs stand out from the rest. Here's a selection of positive outcomes that volunteering can provide for you...
An Optimised Skill Set
Things like leadership, problem-solving and time management are all valuable, real-world skills that recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate on your application. Think of these attributes like strings to the bow you'll serenade them with.
By getting involved with your community, volunteering makes learning skills you can apply in the workplace more than possible. And you'll be improving the lives of other people too, so it's a real win-win.
Make Important Connections
Because non-profit organisations partner with other businesses, organisations and local community figures, volunteering is a great way to explore new paths. You're bound to come across all sorts of opportunities and meet plenty of volunteers who could put you in touch with the right people.
Non-profit professionals are usually pretty forthcoming with career advice too, so don't be afraid to ask them. And by making connections now, you never know when they'll come in useful later down the line.
Making a Change
The changes made by volunteering can be a big motivator for many volunteers. No matter how small they may be, the effects of your efforts are a great way to explore areas of certain sectors that help local communities.
Whether it's funding, staffing or communicating with local people, volunteering can get you thinking about the bigger picture too, providing an introduction to difficult topics like homelessness, educational disparity and supporting those in need, which may help inform your future career path.
What Skills Can Volunteering Provide?
As well as super-charging your existing skillset, volunteering can equip you with all sorts of valuable, actionable skills that you can put to good use in your further education journey and beyond. Take a look at what you could learn below...
Whether it's an admissions officer or a recruiter, evidence of strong leadership is a good look on any CV or application. There'll be times during your volunteering when you went above and beyond to help others.
Perhaps you demonstrated how to carry out a certain part of a particular task to your fellow volunteers. Congrats! You've just shown your leadership in action, so be sure to make mental or written notes of times like this for future applications.
Problem-solving and Adaptability
During your volunteering, you're bound to run into challenges and things you struggle with. Luckily, volunteer experience teaches you how to adapt to situations where not everything goes to plan.
Maybe you had to fill in for someone who was ill at a moment's notice? With a bit of creative thinking, talking things over with your team, you proved you can adapt to things when needs be.
In further education, time management is as crucial as the course materials. You'll be balancing modules and deadlines while having a life outside of your studies too.
Volunteering is much the same – juggling your duties with everything else on your plate. Prioritising and figuring out the best way to get through your to-do list against a ticking clock will definitely stand you in good stead when you’re studying or working.
While volunteering, you'll meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. Some will be young. Some will be old. Some might not be native English speakers. That means your communication skills might be tested, but they'll be all the better for it.
In every company, in every field of work, strong written and verbal communication skills are essential. So, in leveraging your experience as a volunteer, you’re already one step closer to handing in a job-winning application.
Working as Part of a Team
With cultural differences and varying personalities to contend with, experience working as part of a team is appreciated by recruiters and admissions officers alike. Volunteering can provide you with a great opportunity to work with a variety of people you might not have spent much time with previously – helping to hone those all-important teamworking skills.
How to Display Your Volunteering Experience
After garnering some volunteering experience, we know you'll be eager to show off your new skills and achievements in the best way possible. So how can you make sure you're highlighting your experience on your application, CV and at interview?
We'll give you some top-notch tips below...
On University Course Applications
Hoping to go to university? Showing volunteering experience can boost your application, helping admissions officers take note.
A personal statement is where your voluntary work has a real chance to shine. Make sure you emphasise your new skills by tying them into applicable parts of your chosen course, demonstrating what you’ve learned and how it will contribute both now in the future.
On Your CV
- You've worked hard to achieve it, so if you have volunteering experience, then always put it on your resume
- If it's relevant to the job you're applying to, add volunteer work to your CV’s experience section
- Emphasise your experience by linking your new skills to what's required in the job specification
- If your experience isn't relevant (or you have lots of previous employment) then include voluntary work in a separate section
- Remember: even if you don't have a lot of conventional experience, volunteering still makes for a strong substitute and shows you're willing to get involved with local causes and communities
When You're at Interview
- Volunteering experience says a lot about your personality and core values, so don't be afraid to talk about it
- Use your experience as a way to highlight how committed you are to social responsibilities, as well as how motivated you are and the people skills you gained
- Don't forget, interviewers are looking to hear real-life examples of when you used your skills or where you picked them up. An internship or volunteering project is just as credible to these answers, so always have some actual examples to hand
Did you find this guide to volunteering and its benefits helpful? Great, we're glad to hear it! Whatever your goals and aspirations, our distance learning courses could help get you there. For more information or to browse our complete range of courses, visit the homepage or call our experienced learning advisers on 0121 630 3000.