“Think of volunteering as a way of developing the skills and experience needed for a charity sector job…”
Volunteering can be a rewarding and constructive endeavour all by itself. It’s certainly worth doing it at some point in your life. Volunteering is great for society, looks good on your CV and makes you feel good! It can help you with everything from gaining confidence to developing new skills, what’s not to like?
But how can you turn that volunteering experience into a paid job? Well, it’s not quite as hard as it seems and in the charity sector, it’s far more common than you might think. The first step is to understand that most charities are volunteer lead a whopping 91% even! Paid jobs are available, but naturally, competition can be fierce.
Show you care
It may seem cheesy, but it’s true! The most important thing about any charity is the cause they support; it will be the reason the trustees and possibly senior management even work there. Do the absolute best job you can do when volunteering, but more importantly show that you care about, and are committed to the charity’s cause. You want to show how passionate you are about the work, not that you’re chasing paid work or trying to fill gaps on your CV. If a human rights charity wants to turn your volunteer role into a paid job, you’ll need to show your passion for making the world a fairer place for everyone.
Education, education, education
Learn absolutely everything you can and make the most of your volunteering opportunity. You’ll have opportunities to learn new skills, learn from others, and learn about both the charity in question and the charity sector. All this knowledge will prove extremely useful when applying for paid positions. Your knowledge is the charity sector experience you need when making applications. So, don’t be put off if your only have volunteering experience, it’s all good. The best approach is to be humble and treat everything, no matter how junior, as a learning experience.
Make friends and connect
Another benefit of volunteering is the chance to make new contacts in the sector and widen your scope. Networking is an essential part of job hunting in many industries: the charity sector is no different. The more people you know and the more involved you are in the community, the higher your chances of landing a paid job. The relationships you build at the start of your charity career could stay with you for the whole journey, so do keep in contact with everyone you can, who knows; it might be worth dropping them a query about jobs now and then.
The road can be long, and hard
Well, most of the time. In other words, it is important to be patient, you may need to volunteer for longer than you expect, but each week, month even year, you spend volunteering is a way to get excellent and transferable experience for a paid charity job. It pays to be prepared to volunteer for a long time, and potentially to work a more junior role or a role you may not have initially wanted before moving onto to the job you want to do. You’ll also be one of many volunteers, a few of them will likely have been on the job for a while. So, prepare to get stuck in and do your absolute best.
Justify a salary
Charities are often strapped for cash, funds have to be allocated very carefully, and if a lot is spent on salaries, this can play poorly with potential donors. Therefore, you really need to make sure that what you could offer the charity justifies a salary, by the end of your volunteering experience you should bring enough value to the charity to justify what they’ll spend on you. It’s always a good idea to take on more tasks and duties if you have the capacity, so if you spot a something that needs doing, then take it on yourself! Utilize your skills to demonstrate how unique your contribution to the charity could be.
Use your skills
Are you a skilled writer? Then show off on the charity’s blog. A whizz with social media? Maybe take a spin on the Twitter account. Are you career changer with finance experience, take a swipe at the books. Whatever your skillset, you need to find a way to show them off to your potential employer! By fully utilising your skills, whatever they are, especially if they are transferable skills from the corporate sector or education, you’ll prove to the organisation just how much you’re worth and increase your chances of being kept on.
Treat it as an alternate way into the workforce
With so much quality volunteering work available, taking an unpaid internship or placement in the charity can seem like an unfair deal. If you think of volunteering as a way of developing the skills and experience needed for a charity sector job, then the role will feel like a genuine alternative to unfair employment practices prevalent in the corporate sector. You’re not going to be paid, but hey, that internship you might have been considering is going to be paying peanuts anyway, why not do something where you can make a difference instead?
Are you ready to check out a few volunteer roles? Or maybe you’re already set to start applying for paid charity jobs? CharityJob is UK’s largest job board for both, take a look now and find a career with meaning.