If you’re anything like myself the ‘tell us about yourself’ question that gets asked in interviews can be one of the toughest questions to answer as selling yourself can be challenging – because how do you prove this in an interview? It’s drilled into us at school, college and University that we need to sell our positive, commendable traits through words such as ‘proactive’ and ‘diligent’ – however realistically the word on it’s own in meaningless if you can’t prove this.
Now more than ever people not just in our country but worldwide have really seen the importance of being kind and how rewarding helping others can be. In the middle of April over a million UK citizens signed up to volunteer to help the NHS and others during the peak of this invisible killer. With the majority of the nation staying at home people have evidently felt they could do more with the new- found free time– which has not gone unnoticed. For some of us we may come out of this on the other side with a clearer image of how to prioritise the important things life, and in aid of national volunteering week this could be doing activities that provides service for others whilst at the same time being self-rewarding. One of the main reasons why people don’t volunteer for charities or non – profit organisations is because they either ‘don’t have time’ or don’t see the financial benefit that they would get from a paid job. In October 2019 the BBC reported that there was over 60,000 children on the waiting list to join scouts due to the vast shortage of volunteers wanting to be leaders and in June 2017 the UK was in need of public services volunteers to fill the gaps which had the value of over £23 billion.
How can volunteering help your career?
Recent research from SEEK found 92% of employers said relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in interviews, 85% of employers believed that volunteer work was just as credible as paid work. Volunteer experience demonstrates personality traits that are hard to convey through your CV, and just like how employees want to work for ethically in line organisations – employers also want socially responsible employees. I can say from personal experience when it came to filling in the ‘volunteer experience’ on my CV I felt ashamed to say the only thing I had to offer was the charity shop work I did to gain my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award which was compulsory.
From a recruitment perspective someone’s grades, experience and achievements are strong deciding factors, but it doesn’t show who that person is i.e. What are you passionate about? It can be difficult to portray your full personality through a 2-page CV so taking part in activities that have made you feel rewarded and fulfilled really puts a personality to the piece of paper.
Why should you volunteer?
To get an insight into why volunteering is something that should be something to put time and effort into, I interviewed a recent graduate who has heaps of voluntary experience both in England and in countries such as Botswana and Israel. She stated the main aspect of volunteering is the rewarding factor knowing that you’re making a difference to someone else’s life. “You see the change; you see the good and you feel the good.” Instead of getting paid with money you’re getting paid with the sense of accomplishment. During her time in Botswana, she helped build a playground and gave food and water to different villages. “When you see how grateful the children are that’s the reward.” I then asked what her opinion as to why there may be a shortage of volunteers, “People don’t deem it as work because it’s for free, but it really shows you have a passion for something”.
Whether it’s overseas, or in your local charity shop, volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and help future employers learn more about you.
Written by Sophia Ghahramani