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Many people who have been on maternity/paternity leave, been unwell or have enjoyed a career break are worried how this gap of unemployment might be interpreted by a potential employer. A great way to avoid this is to take on some volunteering activities. There are many benefits to volunteering including the following:
If you have been in the house a lot it can be quite easy for your confidence to shrink (something you may not expect if you have been working and then go on maternity leave). By volunteering you have a platform to try something new and build on your confidence. The sense of achievement and contributing will underpin your confidence and will hopefully provide a comfortable environment prior to returning to work.
Volunteering can give you the ‘feel good factor’ and an interesting topic to talk about in an interview. This can be especially insightful for employers to see your diverse and transferable skills as well as providing you with a platform to try something new (see below).
Volunteering particularly in a new field will allow you to learn new skills and, perhaps in some roles, new qualifications. This is an added bonus and something current and relevant to add to your CV.
This is great one to offer employers as by volunteering you are showing how adaptable you and that you are able to take on and thrive on a new challenge.
You can use volunteering as an opportunity to re-train or gain the experience necessary to apply for the work or course you wish too. For example, if you volunteer as a classroom assistant this can improve your chances of being selected for teacher training programmes or if you have or are working towards counselling qualifications then volunteering with relevant charities such as the Samaritans or ChildLine may be a good starting point.
If you have been actively volunteering then ensure this is added to your CV. Just because this is not paid does not mean it is not as significant as paid employment. If you have a gap of employment in your CV then ensure your volunteering experience is added within the work history section to fully demonstrate your new skills and experience. I hope this helps and good luck!
*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services. Emma has over 10 years’ experience in recruitment and employment related services covering a wealth of industries. Having been a professional employment consultant for several years, she has provided professional advice covering everything from professional CV/LinkedIn writing, effective job searching, interview skills and preparation, presentation techniques, and general professional coaching.