Can having volunteering on your CV help you get a job?

Volunteering has so many positives.

Not only is it a rewarding activity for the person doing it and significantly important for the organisation they are helping, but it can boost an individual’s employability, too.

After all, you’re dedicating your extra time to learning new skills and working within a team – all music to an employer’s ears.

So volunteering is an excellent thing to add to your CV. 

Ian Nicholas, global managing director at Reed tells ‘Volunteering is a great way to show that you go the extra mile to give something back to your community and that you have causes you believe in.

‘Employers look at volunteering as a huge bonus for the experience, dedication and sense of purpose that it shows a person has.

‘It may be that the volunteering is done to gain some experience and demonstrate competence, or simply to give time to a cause they believe in. Either way, it shows that a prospective employee is proactive and is usually developing a rounded personality.’

Ian explains that employers often take a keen interest in volunteering when they look at a CV.

So when going for a job interview, be prepared to talk about your experience and why you chose to volunteer in the first place.

Here are some of the different ways volunteering on your CV can make a real difference in the job application process…

It shows your values

President of Frank Recruitment Group, Zoë Morris, explains that while formal work history is an integral part of a CV, it’s crucial not to underestimate the importance of showcasing other areas, such as volunteering.

She says: ‘Candidates who’ve invested their time in a charitable organisation are also investing in its mission, and that’s sure to catch the eye of today’s employers, who are all about passionate, dedicated candidates. 

‘Outlining your volunteer work not only shows that you have a great work ethic, but also gives employers a better insight into what you value and what you stand for.

‘Increasingly, businesses want to hire people who will be engaged with their big picture goals and ideals, so showcasing charitable efforts is a good way of highlighting potential culture fit too.

‘It’s even more valuable if your volunteer work relates to your industry, or has involved a hands-on application of your skills, whether technical and soft.

Highlights how you spend your spare time

‘Volunteering pursuits definitely enhance a candidate’s CV because it demonstrates how one might spend their spare time constructively – giving back to the communities and getting involved in charitable projects,’ explains Mona Akiki, HR director and chief people officer at employee experience platform Perkbox.

Mona adds that this is particularly interesting when such voluntary posts can help candidates hone skills beyond what is typically offered in posts they apply for. 

She says: ‘There are many transferable skills that can be gained from volunteering that are applicable to posts in business – from interpersonal to leadership skills.’

Shows dedication to teamwork 

Whether you’re working in an animal shelter, running sports clubs or assisting with charity events, a huge part of volunteering is working in a team – with other like-minded individuals. 

And this is something incredibly valuable to employers. 

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library, says: ‘Volunteer work shows an employer that you’re always willing to lend a hand. Again, this is perfect in roles where teamwork is crucial.

‘Don’t be afraid to shout about your volunteering achievements and what you’ve learned along the way. It’s the perfect topic of discussion in interviews, and your CV and cover letter are perfect ways to shout about it.’

Demonstrates passion for positivity

Ian Nicholas adds that now, more now than ever, employers are looking to make a positive impact on the world. 

He says: ‘Whether they are doing it as an integral part of their culture, or to make sure that they have a positive external reputation through a proactive corporate social responsibility strategy, volunteering is important to companies – and in these instances volunteering may put you in their favour. 

‘These sorts of employers – which many candidates (especially millennials and Gen Z) want to work for – see volunteering as an essential way of giving back to the community and are likely to see volunteers as the right cultural fit for their organisation.’

Adds a personal touch

In the same way you might list your hobbies and interests on a CV to give an employer a taste of your personality, your volunteering experience can also be a great way to do this.

Lee Biggins adds: ‘Volunteer work can give your CV that little extra boost, adding a personal touch that isn’t all about your career history.

‘It gives the employer something different to learn about you, before they’ve even met you.’

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Volunteers’ Week takes place 1-7 June and highlights the amazing ways people can give back and help others. To get involved click here. 

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