Volunteering work can be equally as useful as paid work experience when it comes to applying for jobs and many students forget to emphasize their volunteering experience on their CV or don’t include it at all. Here are some tips on how you can make your volunteering count on your CV.
· Some organisations value voluntary experience more than others
If you hope to make a career in the third sector or within international development, you may not be selected for an interview unless you have some volunteering experience! If you have relevant volunteering experience this needs to be emphasized in your CV and show up on the first page, under “Relevant Experience” or “Work Experience”. Too many times I have seen relevant volunteering experience hidden in the achievements or interests section, where employers may not see it. Remember, an employer usually only skims through a CV during the first selection process for a job!
· Volunteering gives you transferable skills
You may not have any volunteering experience that is relevant for the actual job you are applying to, but that does not mean that your experience wasn’t useful. If you worked successfully in a team, mention it on a CV. If you worked in budgeting, this can emphasize your numerical skills or if you worked in fundraising, this may have increased your skills in persuasion. Look into more details about what skills the job is asking for and have a think about how your volunteering experiences can give you examples of those skills, and remember to include any specific achievements.
· Tailor your volunteering experiences to company values
Have a read through the values of the company and tailor your volunteering experiences accordingly. Perhaps the company you are interested in have sustainability high on their agenda? Then your volunteering experience in environmental conservation may be relevant. Or maybe the company likes to be engaged in the local community? What then about your volunteering experience in a local charity? Make sure to highlight the most relevant volunteering experiences.
· Make international volunteering count
Apart from following the tips above, if you have volunteered in certain countries or areas of the world, this may be beneficial for an international company to know about. Your increased interpersonal skills and increased international awareness may be extra worth for companies that have projects or networks in those particular regions.
To summarize, my final piece of advice is to tailor, tailor, tailor your volunteering experiences to the job you are applying for. What would be important for the employer to know about you? How can your volunteering experience benefit the company / organisation? How can your volunteering experience show who you are?
Book a quick query with a careers adviser if you need any support in writing your CV, or attend one of our workshops or talks. Book an appointment or a place on a talk through MyFuture.