7 tips to make volunteering work for you


Volunteering is a great way to boost your CV and broaden your experience but is it really worth working unpaid? And how can you get the most from volunteering? Our top tips will give you some pointers.

  1. Fill the gaps in your knowledge

    Volunteering is a simple way to gain the skills you know are missing from your CV. Some careers require particular experience or expertise, so choose to volunteer in a role that will allow you to strengthen these skills. NCVO offers a great list of opportunities to gain a variety of skills. On campus and community volunteering is also available via the vTeam and the law clinic.

  2. Know the deal

    You won’t have a contract as a volunteer but many organisations offer a volunteer agreement which outlines what you can expect, and what’s expected of you. This isn’t compulsory for the organisation to supply but it’s always good to find out what supervision and support is on offer, if you’ll receive any training, what expenses you can claim and any health and safety issues you should be aware of.


  3. Broaden your horizons by volunteering abroad

    Got the travel bug? Why not look for volunteering opportunities abroad? Don’t expect to change the world but you might gain experiences and skills that you wouldn’t get staying in the UK. There’s plenty to consider when applying for volunteering opportunities abroad so make sure you drop into Essex Abroad to discuss all
    your options.

  4. If it’s not working, do something else

    You should treat volunteering as you would paid work; be reliable, presentable, and make a good impression. However, your time is precious and although it’s good to get stuck in to whatever task you’re asked to do, if it’s envelope stuffing 8 hours a day for a week, perhaps you can find better experience elsewhere.


  5. Try out your sector

    Your long term career goal might be a particular role in a particular industry or company, but volunteering gives you the opportunity to see what that job really entails. Even if you’re not volunteering in your dream role, you can learn lots from observing the different positions within the company. Perhaps you might change your goals based on what you see.

  6. Be awarded and rewarded

    Don’t forget! Volunteering counts towards the Big Essex Award. Log your volunteer hours on CareerHub and work towards an award. These extra-curricular activities will then be included on you digital transcript; HEAR (the only formal record of your achievements) and your proof of why future employers should hire you! There are other awards (as well as opportunities to volunteer) outside of the University of
    Essex too.


  7. Volunteering is good for you

    The Red Cross slogan in America is “Give Blood. All you’ll feel is good” and psychologists have proven this to be true; giving back to your community has been shown to increase your well-being. “When we do things for others, we see how we can make a difference, and this gives us confidence in our own ability to create change”*.

    Volunteering won’t just boost your CV, it’ll boost your confidence!


    Don’t forget to sign up to The Big Essex Award and have your volunteering efforts recognised on your HEAR.


*Rath, Tom and Harter, Jim, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (2010), Gallup Press


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