Time well spent

7 Jun 2024
By Julie Graham, Ingeus’ CEO of Employment Services

One of the comments I hear from jobseekers that Ingeus helps into work is that they’d missed the structure and routine of working life. That, alongside being able to talk to people again, are just two of the top social benefits working can bring. They can apply in equal measure to volunteering.

Volunteering can be an important step towards finding work. We see it when people on our programmes build their skills and confidence through volunteering, then move into paid employment. Whether you prefer to get out of the house and get to know a whole team of new people – potentially at an organisation you would one day like to work for – or prefer helping alone, or by remote means, where volunteering is concerned, there’s something for everyone.

Either way, you’ll be making a huge difference to grateful charities and organisations, and to your own job prospects.

Acquire skills: Both practical and personal skills can be gained from volunteering. In addition to job specific skills like using office equipment, health and safety regulations, or customer service skills, much can be gained from non-vocational volunteering. Organising the school fair demands project management and team leading skills; requesting donations needs sales and communication skills. While time management will certainly come into play when taking your neighbour to their medical appointment before the school run, for example.

Improve confidence: Volunteering can give a genuine boost to your self-worth and confidence. It can get you used to being away from home, mixing with people, and communicating, while being appreciated for your input.

Gain experience: Volunteering is an excellent way of demonstrating work experience. It can fill employment gaps on your CV and help you decide what you may or may not enjoy doing and are suited to.

Meet contacts: A volunteer role connected to your job ambition will place you in a network of useful contacts, potentially even a future employer. Networking with like-minded people, in person or online utilising your volunteering could put you firmly in mind for their next vacancy.

These important benefits have been perfectly demonstrated by one of our recent Ingeus success stories:
Jordan from Wigan had no experience in retail and lacked confidence and social skills. With help from our Restart Scheme team, he was introduced to employer Rebuild with Hope and began volunteering in their shop. He’s received first aid, manual handling, and safety testing training, and his confidence has skyrocketed. Impressing his employer with his attitude, he’s progressed to a paid retail apprenticeship in just six months. 

The employer perspective

I also speak to many employers in my role and overwhelmingly they want applicants with the right attitude. While job-specific skills can be taught, interpersonal skills and behaviours will shine every time. 

Volunteering can demonstrate to an employer that you’re a proactive person, eager to learn new skills. That you have empathy for others and ambition to progress. That you’re committed and dependable. What employer wouldn’t want those qualities? 
In fact, business consultants Deloitte found in its last widespread survey of hiring managers that 82% would prefer to take on someone with volunteering experience.

There’s no doubt that volunteering can pave the way into paid employment. It can push your CV to the top of the pile when you’re looking for a job and can enhance your general wellbeing. Whatever your motivation, volunteering is good for you, and others. 

If you’re interested in volunteering these organisations can help:  https://www.ncvo.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/volunteering-opportunities/ Becoming a volunteer – Volunteers' Week (volunteersweek.org) Search for a local volunteering opportunity - Get Volunteering The UK National Volunteer Charity | Royal Voluntary Service

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