Think about your transferable skills. To get the most out of volunteering (in terms of increasing your employability) you need to improve on those all important transferable skills:
• Team work
• Organisation and planning
• Problem solving
Try and keep one eye on your skills development at all times, imagine how the work your doing will look on your CV and how it could help you answer application form and interview questions.
If you don’t ask you won’t get. Explain to your supervisor that you need to develop your skills and ask them if there is any task you could be assigned that might help.
• Leadership – Could you lead a small project in a specific area?
• Teamwork – Could you be involved in a team project?
• Organisation – Could you organise the rota?
• Responsibility – Is there an aspect you could take sole responsibility for?
• Problem Solving – Are there any issues effecting operations? Could you trial a possible solution?
• Communication – Could you be involved in a fundraising project or presentation?
Grab opportunities to really impress. Recruiters love provable examples of your skills, and an impressive accomplishment while volunteering could put your application at the top of the pile.
• Keep a look out for aspects of the organisation that might not be running as smoothly as they could – if you can implement a change that improves productivity your going to stand out as a candidate with proven initiative and problem solving skills.
• Can you think of ways to improve the organisations exposure, for instance do they have a Facebook and Twitter account? Are they on Pinterest? Could you set that up?
• Could you organise your own fundraising event for them?
Get experience relevant to your career. As well as your transferable skills think about skills and experience relevant to your specific career path. Do you want to go into design – could you design a leaflet or poster? Finance – could you have a look at the books, see how they run the finance side of operations? Event management – could you be involved with the organisation of a fund raising event they are planning?
Remember your reference. Volunteering is a great opportunity to get a recent reference, so be on your best behaviour and make sure you keep contact details!
Network. It’s also a good place to network, what do other volunteers do for a living? What do their partners do? Make sure you make an effort with the people around you and tell them what industry you’re trying to break into, you never know what opportunities they might throw up.
Final point. You get out what you put in – it’s a cliché but it’s true. If you work hard and get involved not only will you have a rewarding experience you’ll also improve your employability.