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Using voluntary work to get ahead in the job market
Using voluntary work to get ahead in the job market

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4 Getting started

Here’s a seven-point action plan to help get you started and activities to give you ideas about creating development opportunities and monitoring the progress you make.

1) Review your objectives/wish list (see Section 1). Be clear about what you want to achieve and how much time you can offer (it could be quite small!).

2) Review your own interests, and what you have to offer, including any possible constraints. Be realistic (see Sections 2 and 3).

3) Shortlist the organisations that are the closest fit to your needs.

4) Check opportunities on their websites, general websites (see sources of reference) or at your local volunteer bureau. Find your nearest at Do-it.

5) Apply – preferably to just two or three.

6) Prepare for interviews, if necessary (see section 5). Usually, there will be no formal interview – just a quick chat to introduce you to what’s going on.

7) Complete training and induction, if necessary. Again, for many posts a five-minute induction chat is all you’ll need.

Activity 4

Once you have commenced volunteering, use Worksheet 3 to record the details and create a volunteering log.

Worksheet 3

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You can also use the log for jotting down ideas about further volunteering possibilities, so you have an easy format to compare what’s involved with different organisations.

If you really want to impress employers it’s crucial that you continually review your achievements and look at ways to enhance your voluntary experience. Many large charities are very proactive in helping you develop the range of your activities and involvement, but you might need to take the initiative yourself and create your own opportunities to improve your employability.

Activity 5

Continue your volunteering log (Worksheet 3), unless you are very sure that everything is just for the purpose of enjoying the new experiences for their own sake and for the sake of those you’re helping. You’ll need to review and record:

  • what you did while volunteering and what you have achieved
  • what you learned and what skills you developed
  • what training or induction you received
  • how you want to improve from here.

This leads on to next steps, with strategies to develop your work and improve job prospects even further.