Become a volunteer

If you lack confidence about getting back into work after years out, voluntary work might be a good option. Check out our tips.

Do you lack confidence after being made redundant or being out of the workforce a while? Or perhaps you’re worried about explaining career gaps on your CV. Doing voluntary work can help you sort niggles like these and open you up to new people and interests.

Below are some of the key benefits of volunteering:

Boost your self-belief

Lack of confidence is one of the main hurdles for women who want to return to the workplace, according to a survey by Taking on some voluntary work can be a real confidence-booster because you can learn new skills and it’ll look fab on your CV. Volunteering covers a huge range of activities, such as: – being a parent governor at your local school – organising coffee mornings for a playgroup – doing the odd bit of paperwork for a residents association. You can do as much or as little as you like and fit it around your childcare commitments. Being made redundant can also dent your confidence and volunteer work can help keep your hand in while you look for paid work.

Get new skills

Being a parent governor, for example, gives you a great deal of responsibility and insight into the running of a busy and complex organisation. Organising fundraising events for playgroups can involve diplomacy, marketing and even basic accounting skills.

Brush up existing skills

You may volunteer to take on a particular role, such as marketing a local event, because that’s your professional background. So if you’ve been away from your career a while, it’s a great chance to have a ‘practice run’ before returning to employment.

Revamp your cv

Including details of your voluntary work, and the skills you’ve gained through it, will add oomph to your job application and make you more attractive to employers. Careers expert Kate Slater advises: ‘Try to link anything you have achieved to the competency skills required for the post you’re going for.’

Find a new challenge

Despite the broad range of work experience women possess these days, there are relatively few of us available to do voluntary work. This means that those that do volunteer are demanding more challenging and rewarding assignments, according to Judy Esmond, a volunteering expert and author of Count Me In! 501 Ideas on Recruiting Volunteers. She encourages voluntary organisations to ‘explore ways of creating even more stimulating and satisfying tasks’ to respond to this. So the kind of voluntary work on offer might be of even more interest to a potential employer. Many people are also now keen to give something back to society after having gained years of experience in paid employment. The growth of ‘portfolio careers’ and more flexible working can open up new possibilities to gain new skills but also give something back through volunteering.

Relevant information

10 things to think about before becoming a volunteer – click here.
Case study – Developing new skills to change jobs
Case study – Using your skills to help others

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