How volunteering can land you a job in support work
No work experience? No problem! You can get a great job as a support worker through transferable skills from volunteering alone.
If you’re just entering the world of work, or you haven’t worked in a while (not for pay, at least!), you probably feel like you should be laser-focused on getting a job.
But volunteering can be a great career move, and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or energy.
10 benefits of learning transferable skills from volunteering
As you might know from our post on the 8 transferable skills that will land you a career in support work, transferable skills are skills you can learn in one role and transfer to another. Well, that role doesn’t have to be paid. Volunteering experience is work experience, and the skills you’ll learn as a volunteer will stand you in great stead in the job market.
1. Get free training
Many volunteer opportunities come with lots of free training that you can use in your future career. Volunteering in the charity or social care sector will usually include training on topics like mental health awareness, safeguarding and equality, diversity and inclusion. Adding these skills to your CV and LinkedIn profile will make you a great candidate for support worker roles.
2. Develop your soft skills
This is where transferable skills from volunteering really shine. You’ll learn sought-after skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities, which will get employers interested in you. Volunteering while you’re a student shows you have great time management abilities too. Employers love graduates who are organised and driven, so make sure you highlight your volunteer experience on your CV.
3. Improve your existing skills
Try a volunteering opportunity that uses skills you already have (anything from active listening to Zoom–or active listening on Zoom, for that matter), and you’ll get to practise and improve them, making you even more valuable to employers.
4. Try a new career for size
If you’re thinking of becoming a housing support worker, how about volunteering for a non-profit organisation in the housing sector first? You’ll get a better idea of whether it’s for you–and if it is, you’ll have gained some top-notch experience.
5. Fill a skills gap
If you don’t have all the skills a support worker needs yet, volunteering is a great way to fill the gap. Work out what specific skills you need to pick up (protip: have a free chat with us to find out) and then look for a voluntary role that will help you develop them.
6. Impress employers and build work experience
You’ve probably heard the old chestnut that you need to have a job to get a job. Not true. Having relevant work experience that you gained working for free will actually give you the edge over the competition.
When you get asked a competency-based interview question about a time that you overcame a challenge or used your initiative, you’ll be able to tell a story from your volunteering days to impress the interviewer and show you have the experience they want.
7. Boost your mental health
Volunteering for as little as two hours a week reduces stress and anxiety. Helping people (or animals!) literally produces happy brain chemicals that motivate you to do it again. The sense of accomplishment, confidence and pride you get from volunteering will help you take a positive view of yourself and your life and strive to achieve your career goals.
8. Meet great people
As a volunteer, you’ll meet lots of passionate, enthusiastic and warm-hearted people who can become your support network and inspire you to do your best. And speaking of networking, volunteering can be a great way to make professional contacts, find a mentor, and maybe find a job too.
There’ll be lots of people you can learn from while you’re volunteering, and they’ll usually be happy to share their knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask questions–and remember to add people you meet on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch and grow your professional network.
9. Show your passion
Employers want well-rounded individuals who are ambitious, passionate and proactive. Giving your precious time to volunteer shows that you’re the kind of person they’re looking for. What’s more, it shows you genuinely want to help others, which is an important quality for any support worker to have.
10. Don’t let a career break break your career
Taking time out of work to raise children, care for a family member, travel, or recover from a physical or mental illness shouldn’t put the dampers on your career–and it doesn’t have to. As The Independent puts it, “Where maternity stretches to a career break it is important to emphasise skills maintained and developed through any volunteer work…”
That’s particularly important if you’re looking to move into a new career as a support worker. What’s more, staying active through volunteering will help you keep your confidence up and return to the world of work feeling like you’ve got this.
We hope we’ve convinced you that volunteer work is a great way to make yourself valuable to employers. Wherever you choose to volunteer, and however much time you have to offer, make the most of the opportunity, make lots of friends, and don’t forget to have fun!
If you have volunteering experience and want to know how to get onto the career ladder, we can help! As you’ll see from Sue’s candidate experience with us, we’re really nice to chat to, and we make it easy to work through what’s important (thanks, Sue!)
So get in touch with Moxie–we’d love to talk.