From volunteer work to paid work

Recruitment specialist Dan Hawes gives advice on how you can use volunteering to get back into work after a career break.

Volunteering is an under-rated resource as a platform to improve employability; it can be the perfect resource for you to be on your way back into the working world. The opportunities available in a wide variety of industries are more extensive than you think and are great for getting back into the swing of a working environment.

In terms of finding a position, there are a lot of great websites that provide a broad range of opportunities; along with plenty of charity positions, there are also vacancies available in Law, Education, Sport, Conservation and Emergency Services, to name a few. This could be an excellent opportunity to explore a new field of interest or gain experience back in the industry you were previously employed in. Taking initiative and seeking working opportunities, even if it isn’t paid, demonstrates your drive for seeking this work out in the first place.

Volunteering is also based on a relatively flexible format if it is for a more long-term position, which is beneficial if your child or children are still very young and need to be collected from nursery or a childminders. The hours are usually very reasonable and not too intensive so you can still work around looking after your children and balancing it with your volunteering.

One of the key benefits of volunteering is that it provides good leverage for your CV, as it can be included as your most recent employment. It demonstrates to future employers when you do seek a paid role that you took it upon yourself to get back into the working environment and gain experience to catch up on what you have missed, as key developments would have occurred in your specific industry. If you are looking to seek employment in a new field of interest, volunteering gives you a strong advantage as it shows you sought out work to gain knowledge and experience, instead of entering the market as a complete novice.

So don’t underplay the idea of volunteering – you never know what opportunities could cross your path and it provides an additional branch of knowledge and skills for you to use in your next step of gaining paid employment.

*Dan Hawes is co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

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