The job market is a scary place to be right now. If you’re a teenager, graduate or soon-to-be graduate reading this then you don’t need me telling you, you’re probably finding out first hand. But for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t heard a newscaster, politician or careers adviser in the past half-decade, I’ll repeat myself: The job market is a scary place to be.
The first terrifying obstacle to overcome in many cases is the circular logic of ‘experience’. Employers want it, you need it and seemingly nowhere is willing to give it. There is, however, a neat loophole in this spiral into madness: volunteering.
There is an easy way to find out if there are organisations in your area looking for volunteers to help out (and get it on their CV) and that’s by checking vinspired.com to see what’s posted around North Yorkshire. Don’t worry if none of them are the exact job title you want to end up in, just find something related that you can be passionate about!
Almost every imaginable career path has relevant experience to be gained from voluntary opportunities. Events Manager? Try festival work. Chef? Helping out with some cookery courses sounds good. Astronaut? How about volunteering abroad instead?
In any case, what employers mean when they say they are looking for experience is not necessarily evidence that you’ve already done this job before, but that you have the drive and enthusiasm to do it for them. Nothing shows off this willingness to get stuck in better than volunteering. If an employer can look down your CV and see that you haven’t waited around to be given a career and have set about earning one yourself, then that will set you apart from the crowd.
But volunteering isn’t all about getting those notches on your CV, you can gain another advantage in the job market by networking, and that doesn’t just mean a reference from your boss. Keeping in touch with people you meet on a job is good for getting an in to other organisations, and that can sometimes be just the edge you need.
Picture the scene: a friend you met last year on a community gardening project lets you know someone has just left at their job. You send in a speculative application aimed at the position that just opened up and your friend puts in a good word. Their boss sees the application and, instead of going through the lengthy process of interviewing and hiring, they decide to give you a trial shift. Once your foot’s in the door, it’s smooth sailing!
Of course, volunteering isn’t a one-way street, you don’t get all these career-making benefits for nothing! But consider that you do get them for the simple act of helping out others in the almost opposite (but equally desperate) situation of needing a helping hand and not being able to afford it.