Ask James Caan – 17th May 2011 – Issue 48
It’s been an extremely busy week for webrecruit – we’re working on some very exciting projects aimed at job seekers which will be launched very soon. Whilst I can’t share any details quite yet, I do recommend keeping an eye out to see what’s in store. Watch this space!
Back to the column and this week I’d like to turn your attention to the value of volunteering and how it can really help your application when job hunting.
Take this letter from Claire:
‘I’m looking at ways to make my CV stand out and think I should include the volunteering I do. I help out at a drop in centre – talking to vulnerable people, and provide some admin and over-the-phone support. How is best to present this to a future employer?’
Claire, I’m sure you are more than aware that the job market is tougher than ever. The competition is ferocious, and today’s candidates are now required to put even more work into their applications to rise to the top.
Volunteering can be hugely rewarding, but it can also help to improve your employability. As such, it must be awarded a place within your CV. It is a great way to showcase your transferrable skills, open up new markets and help build some really interesting contacts.
Personally, I’m involved in a number of volunteering initiatives, most notably, vinspired. Vinspired is a scheme that recognises the work young people undertake, and the need for employers to understand the full extent of skills they acquire.
Claire, I imagine your drop-in centre experience will have helped you to build on your communication and listening skills, not to mention your administrative abilities. All of which can easily be applied to a variety of jobs.
Whilst volunteering is a selfless act in itself, it’s important to identify what you can get out of it and just how it can aid your job search.
Take some time to decide what industry you want to work in, and use volunteering as a platform to ‘fill the blanks’ within your CV. It’s important to define what you would bring to the table, identify areas for improvement and react accordingly.
For example, if you are looking at customer service vacancies, ensure to include reference to your telephone support skills as well as your ability to talk with a range of audiences. Or, if you are seeking a role in the not-for-profit sector, you’re appreciation of how the industry works, what drives it and how performance is measured will put you in good stead.
There is sometimes slight confusion regarding where to include volunteering experience in a CV. Personally, I think it doesn’t matter where you present it, as long as you highlight what you have achieved and what value it could offer a prospective employer.
The fantastic thing about volunteering is that there is always something for everyone. It can open up a world of opportunities whilst fitting around your commitments, and can benefit a number of people. But it’s not only rewarding, your CV and transferrable skills will improve greatly, and some organisations even offer the chance to acquire qualifications.
Overall, Claire, remember that the main point of the CV is to land an interview, and by ensuring it’s packed with examples of how much value you can offer a company will only work to your advantage.