Will volunteering really make me stand out to employers?

Student Volunteering Week is a national event, with Higher and Further Education Institutions across the country using the week to celebrate existing student volunteers and to encourage more students to start volunteering. Your Careers Service is using the week (8-14 February 2021) to celebrate your achievements in volunteering over the past year. However, we are also keen to remind you of the employability benefits to be gained!

Will volunteering really make me stand out to employers?

Absolutely! But don’t take our word for it – in this blog some of our Bristol PLUS Award endorsing employers explain exactly how they perceive volunteer work from their applicants, and just why volunteering is so beneficial for both you and the organisation you go on to work for.

Skills development

To succeed in our application process, you need to demonstrate core competencies, things such as resilience, leadership and problem solving. These skills can’t be gained through uni work alone. You need to develop these through a wide range of extracurricular activities.” Teach First

Many employers use competency-based interview questions (e.g., “Tell me about a time when…”) and the best way to respond well to these questions is to have a broad range of experiences from which to draw your answers.

As well as the skills mentioned above, volunteering demonstrates that you can manage your time and your workload, that you have a range of interests wider than your academic studies, and that you are driven to take the initiative and seek out opportunities beyond your course, all of which are very attractive to employers.

“[It’s] great to see how many students are engaging in extracurricular activities to increase their skillset.” Unlocked Graduates

Your existing skillset is one important consideration. An ideal volunteering opportunity will help you to develop a new skill or continue improving on a newly developed one. By taking stock of your existing skills, you will be able to identify where you already do well, where you can improve, and where you could learn something entirely new. You may wish to begin this process by brainstorm skills you have and would like to have, and then progress by searching by skill in myopportunities to find opportunities that fit your requirements.

Broader life experience

Candidates who have little experience outside of the learning environment tend to struggle at interview.” HMRC

The skills you will gain from volunteering are undeniably helpful when it comes to applications, assessment centres and interviews. However, the benefits beyond securing a job are also vast, with 96% of volunteers reporting satisfaction with the opportunities they are involved with (Source: NCVO 2019). The positive outcomes linked to volunteering, such as improved mental health and positive wellbeing, can certainly have a knock-on effect that link back to successful applications and interviews. For example, the vast majority of volunteers report a sense of belonging, increased socialisation and decreased feelings of isolation through volunteering – all of which can contribute to a greater level of self-confidence: a trait that is hugely important during interviews!

That ‘je ne sais quoi’

Many students come out of the University of Bristol with a great degree, which is really impressive, however, when we are selecting one person for a role and have five great applicants, all with a degree, we need something extra to decide yes that is the best candidate.” HMRC

Volunteering broadens your horizons, exposes you to life outside of university and teaches you skills that you may never have developed otherwise. Demonstrating this during an interview or assessment centre will show your adaptability, your passion, and your work ethic. In a nutshell, it will allow you to shine.

Make the most of the volunteering roles available to you by searching the myopportunities portal and don’t forget that all volunteering counts towards the Bristol PLUS Award – register for the Award by 14 February 2021 to take part.

Throughout Student Volunteering Week (8-14 February) keep an eye on our socials, where we will be celebrating our student volunteers and their achievements! Share you own story by tagging us and using the hashtags #bristolstudents #loveyourcommunity #studentvolunteeringweek

(Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)