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How can volunteering help you land a job after university? by Ashleigh Harman

Have you thought about how you are going to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs after graduation? Read how volunteer work and internships can help you do so.

How can volunteering help you land your first job?

When an employer receives numerous applications for a graduate job role that are all very similar to one another, what does that person do to determine which candidate is right for the position?

Many look for more than just academic achievements, paying close attention to additional activities such as any volunteering and internships that an applicant has organised and undertaken.

These unique selling points can provide a candidate with a real opportunity to stand out from the crowd. They signal that a person has achieved more than just academic qualifications, while they allow an employer to gain insight into the personality of the applicant so that they can decipher whether or not that person would be a good addition to their business.

Build your professional experience

Volunteering throughout your university career or taking on an unpaid internship can let employers see that you are the right applicant to hire.

Business owners want more than just average run-of-the-mill employees; they want talented staff members capable of driving their company forward. Volunteer work or an internship can demonstrate to a potential employer that you are a high calibre applicant and possess talent, passion and determination that would be well worth investing in.

Taking on a placement related to your career path can also give you the opportunity to achieve valuable skills and knowledge, which can demonstrate to employers that you have the capabilities needed to begin in the role without much difficulty. If you carry out unrelated volunteer work, this will still impress employers, particularly if you can demonstrate that you have gained transferable skills, followed an incredible passion or made significant achievements for the business you worked for.

Grow your professional network

Any volunteer work and internships that you carry out can also allow you to build up a professional network, which in turn can help you to get your first footing on your career ladder.

Volunteering can put you in front of business owners and industry leaders, giving you the opportunity to showcase your capabilities to them. If they are impressed by the effort you put in and the achievements you make, it is likely that they will remember you or even want to stay in contact.

Developing a good reputation or relationships with these people can work in your favour, so that when any work opportunities arise, they will already know and trust your talent and competency.

Unpaid internships can sometimes even lead directly to full time work within an organisation. If a business owner recognises that a volunteer or intern is talented and would be an asset to their business, it is not uncommon for employers to then recruit that person right away.

Where to include voluntary experience in your CV?

It is crucial that your volunteer work or internships are displayed on your CV properly. When putting together applications, any voluntary experience should be presented in the following format:

  • In chronological order along with any paid work completed
  • Include the business name, your title and the duration of your assignment
  • Describe your responsibilities and the skills gained from volunteering
  • Include any achievements you made for the organisation

As volunteering and internships have become so crucial to employers and one of the main elements they look for when determining between candidates, now is the right time to go out and gain this experience. There are many businesses requiring volunteers as well as organisations offering placements and work experience to students, so with the right dose of effort and initiation you should be able to find volunteer work to help you stand out from the crowd.

Author Bio: Ashleigh Harman is a digital content writer for Portfolio Procurement, a recruitment agency specialising in procurement job vacancies and careers.


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