5 benefits of volunteering when considering a career change

“Be of service. Whether you make yourself available to a friend or co-worker, or you make time every month to do volunteer work, there is nothing that harvests more of a feeling of empowerment than being of service to someone in need.” ~ Gillian Anderson

Volunteering has many benefits; not only for you, but also for the organisation and the beneficiaries of the work the organisation delivers.

It comes in many forms. Some voluntary opportunities are flexible whilst others can be for a fixed period of time. There are some voluntary positions where you are required to do a specific role or provide certain skills. At the same time there are other voluntary roles that require you to get involved across the entire organisation, depending on its size.

If you are considering a career change or even simply making changes to your current job, volunteering can provide you with valuable opportunities to improve your future career and job prospects.

Your can make a difference

Many non-for-profit organisations are crying out for volunteers. Finance is often a challenge for these organisations and therefore they are limited to how many paid employees they can have. This means they rely heavily on the skills, knowledge, time and experience of volunteers.

A lot of the women who come to me for coaching are considering a career change because they want to do something that makes a difference. Volunteering offers an interim or even permanent way to make a contribution to causes that really matter to you.

When I took redundancy I volunteered at a housing charity for 6 months. I provided my project management skills as well as my experience of working with young people to deliver a project for getting homeless young people back into work, training or employment. Not only was the role extremely rewarding, I also met some really great people and it meant that I did not have a huge gap in my CV.

(The experience I had working with young people was gained through working as a voluntary mentor whilst working full time.)


Five benefits of volunteering

As you can see, there are many benefits to be had from volunteering, yet it is not something many people consider.

Here are five benefits of volunteering:

  1. Develop existing skills

Volunteering gives you the chance to develop skills you already have. I know some of the women I speak to feel as though their skills are not being fully utilised in their current role. Some women even believe their future prospects are being hindered due to the lack of opportunity to develop their existing skills. As I said above, there is an abundance of organisations desperate for people with skills to help grow and maintain the delivery of the services they provide.

  1. Learn new skills

As well as developing your current skills, volunteering also enables you to learn new skills. This is particularly useful if you are considering a career change and are concerned about gaining relevant work experience. Smaller non-for-profit organisations are often more open to people with little or no skills in an area to get involved and take on roles that they are not professionally qualified for.

If you are not considering a career change, learning new skills can also help you to enhance your promotion prospects or get a new job.

  1. Gain knowledge and experience in a new area or sector

If you are considering changing career and moving into a completely new sector, volunteering not only give you experience, it can also gives you valuable insight into  whether or not a job role or sector is actually what you thought it would be. Of course it is recommended that you try a few organisations to get a true overview of the sector.

If you decide that you definitely want to change career, volunteering can help you gain priceless work experience that can be added to your CV and improve your knowledge of the sector.

  1. Make contacts and increase visibility

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share similar interests or are at least passionate about similar causes. If you are thinking about a career change, then it is important to get to know as many people as possible in the sector you want to move to. Volunteering can give you access to those people. It can also help you to increase your visibility in that sector as you get to know more people and they get to know you and what you can provide.

As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

  1. Make a difference

This is the last benefit on the list but I am willing to guess that it’s the one that matters most to you.

When you are unhappy or frustrated in your job, you can become desperate to do something more meaningful and something that makes a difference to others. Changing careers can take time; however it is not necessary to wait until you change career or job to make a contribution. Volunteering allows you to make a difference to a cause that you care about, which then makes you feel good.

There are many ways to start volunteering. Firstly make a list of all the causes you’re passionate about and any interests you have. Once you have a list, research what related non-for-profit organisations exist in your local area or near to your place of work. Then make contact to see what they need and how you can help.

Many corporate companies also have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and will allow employees to use a certain number of hours to contribute to a good cause. Find out what your company’s CSR policy is.

Finally, internships and work shadowing can also provide some, if not all five of the benefits mentioned above and are therefore also worth looking into.

Over to You

Have you considered volunteering? What reservations do you have around doing voluntary work?

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P.S. If you want more ways to feel good whilst changing career, remember to sign up below to receive a free guide to being happy despite your 9 to 5.

About Leanne

Freelance blogger, qualified careers adviser, and certified life coach. Passionate about empowering women and young people to create a career & life they love.

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