We often hear from people that it’s hard to find opportunities when they’re changing career paths, trying out a new sector or simply looking for their first job.

No matter what stage you’re at with your career, if you’re looking to pick up new skills or make a change in focus, volunteering can be a great way to build up experience and develop valuable skills that can eventually translate to paid opportunities.

Here’s our top tips for why volunteering can help your career aspirations and allow you to broaden your horizons:

Volunteering builds your skillset:

You may find that your current job doesn’t give you the opportunity to do the things that really make your heart sing. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to try your hand at something else but it’s just not an option within your profession. Volunteering is the perfect way to gain and expand on skills, without fully committing to retraining or taking the plunge into something new.

Of course, we all have bills to pay so it’s very reasonable to rule out volunteer or unpaid opportunities on a full-time basis if that doesn’t work for you financially. However, if you have the capacity and drive to do it, giving your time on a part time or ad hoc basis can be a great way to start building up experience in your desired field.

Volunteering builds your network:

The networking opportunities that come from volunteering can’t be understated. With our small population in New Zealand, it can be common to hear the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” refrain when it comes to finding new work opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and build up new relationships.

Don’t forget that most charitable organisations are governed by Boards whose members (and other volunteers) have day jobs in all sorts of different organisations and sectors. The connections you make through volunteering absolutely can help widen your existing networks and increase your chances of hearing about and being considered for new opportunities that might interest you.

Volunteering boosts your CV:

When organisations are looking to hire, they want to see the total package – sure you might be able to do the job but are you a nice person to be around? Do you care about others? Having voluntary experience on your CV is a nice way to show that you have interests outside of your day job and care for the community.

According to data from Seek.co.nz, 92% of employers say relevant volunteer experience makes a candidate more appealing. If you’re not currently employed but looking, volunteering can help you fill the time until you find a new role, without having those dreaded cv gaps.

Volunteering lets you try something new:

It gives you the opportunity to try something out before taking the plunge and making a full career change. Sometimes we might think something sounds really fun or interesting, but it’s not until you’re really in the thick of it that you begin to realise it’s maybe not quite what you’d expected. Volunteering gives you the chance to try your hand at a new skill or sector without the worry that it’s going to look bad on your CV if you don’t stick with it!

Volunteering is good for you:

Volunteering also gives you the added bonus of helping the community and doing something “for good”.

It can build confidence too – you get to meet more people, learn about yourself and build up your skillset – all things that help build confidence, especially when it comes to job hunting!

We’ve included a few links below to help you get connected with volunteer opportunities. And if you do give your time to a worthy cause, don’t forget to include it on your CV!

Good luck,

Kirsty and Nikki

Seek Volunteer
Do Good Jobs
Volunteering NZ

Staying motivated during a job search
Understanding and Using Job Boards