How Volunteer Experience Enhances Your CV

October 31 2018 , 0 Comments

Charity job

In an increasingly competitive job market, candidates are doing more to add depth and dimension to their CVs. With the influx of interested candidates across the board, it begs the question: is having a degree and a bit of experience enough anymore?

Employers want to hire people who are driven and passionate, but also blend well with their company culture. They’re looking for long-term hires who are likely to inspire change in their organisation. With so much to include in a CV and such a small space to do it, how can you convey all the different elements that make you the perfect candidate for the role?

One of the most common things that is overlooked when people are writing their CVs is volunteer experience. It reveals so much about you to potential employers, both personally and professionally. Here are four ways volunteer experience can enhance your CV.


1. Volunteer experience helps you build and demonstrate transferable skills

First, we need to make an important distinction: volunteering is not separate from work experience. Just like in your previous positions, you dedicated time to a specific organisation and developed valuable skills and competencies that were important for work life. According to research conducted by Deloitte, 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants who include volunteer experience on their CV. This is because volunteering builds leadership and communication skills, which ultimately contribute to your character and work ethic.  

And volunteer experience doesn’t have to always be related to the job you’re applying for. Whether you spent time at the local homeless shelter or did a bit of fundraising, you had the initiative to develop skills outside your normal skillset. And this isn’t just limited to professional skills. You’re also feeding your ambition and personal drive. Hiring managers will be impressed by your desire to learn new things and your appetite for change.


2. It gives employers insight into your interests

People support causes that mean something to them. By emphasising that you took the time to volunteer outside of work or university commitments, you’re offering employers an insight into what you really care about. It also shows them that you’re proactive and make the time to do things that are important to you. It’s time well-spent because you’re giving back to a larger cause while also illustrating that you’re dedicated to your beliefs.

Volunteer experience is also a great measure of how you’ll fit in with the company culture. Do other people in your team have similar interests? Or maybe the organisation you’re applying for is charitable in its own right. This is a clever way to inject your interests and passions into an otherwise serious CV.


3. It shows you’re driven by more than just money

Regardless of the sector, employers want to hire people who are motivated and work to a high standard. Job satisfaction comes from more than just a salary, and by choosing to volunteer (for free), you’re proving that the money isn’t the most important aspect of how you spend your time. In fact, this is a common drive when people shift from a corporate position to a job in the non-profit sector. They care less about matching their previous salary and more about having a job that makes them feel like they’re making a difference.

It also illustrates that you’re driven by impact. You’re giving up your time and personal resources to do something altruistic. Few people are willing to do stuff that is unpaid, but you’re clearly more open to the challenge and the experience than what you are getting out of it. And it’s worth it if you get to see positive results and have an impact shaping the world around you.


4. Companies see the benefit of giving back – and they want candidates to match

In the last decade, the millennial generation has driven a shift in corporate responsibility, holding more corporations accountable for their impact and inspiring businesses to take part in charitable endeavours. With more millennials sitting it the hiring seat, they’re drawn to equally socially responsible candidates. In this case, showing that you’ve been active in giving back to your community can make the difference between you and another candidate. In fact, only one in three job seekers mention unpaid volunteer work on their CV, which means you may have the advantage if you’re applying for a socially responsible organisation.

Of course, if you’re looking for a job in non-profit, volunteer experience could open doors and build valuable connections that help you take that next step into a full-blown career.


The best thing about volunteer work is that you can get involved at any stage in your life. Whether you’re just out of university or want to spend time volunteering outside the office, you can fit the time comfortably into your schedule. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and make a difference (and don’t forget to mention it when you’re applying for your next job!).


This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialised job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.


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