At a recent visit to a major graduate employer, an academic from KBS was told that unless an applicant has both paid and voluntary work experience, their CV will be thrown straight into the bin (recycle bin we hope!) I know we talk about it a lot, but the labour market IS really competitive. Don’t let that put you off your job search, just make sure you’re ahead of the competition. How can you do that? Through volunteering.
A few years ago, TimeBank did some research into the importance of volunteering and found that 73% of the UK’s leading businesses would employ someone who has volunteered over someone who hasn’t. Many companies are now really hot on ‘corporate social responsibility’, where they make an effort to give something back to the community. This could be through giving staff time to volunteer, through community projects or environmental initiatives. If you can show your passion for volunteering and a willingness to ‘get stuck in’, this can help you to stand out against other candidates.
Previously, volunteering had a bit of a negative stereotype – mainly of your nan helping out in a charity shop.
Things have changed though, and there is so much you can do. Other Kent students volunteer both within the university (for societies, mentoring schemes) and in the local community (through befriending, volunteering in schools, working with victims of crime, young offenders). Not that there’s anything wrong with charity shops, a student who had no previous work experience got a placement with the BBC purely from volunteering at a charity shop!
Kent Union offers a certificate for volunteering – something to add to your achievements on your CV! Already this academic year 80,000 volunteering hours have been logged by students on the E&V Toolkit, so if you’re not already on there, sign up today!