Volunteering in general is a term that can be met with an element of snobbishness by many. However it is the majority who make the mistake of overlooking an opportunity due to their sense of entitlement.
I have briefly touched on the benefits of volunteering abroad and how it can benefit your career in the article, ‘How volunteering abroad helps you make the most of your summer break’.
However in this article, I’m going to talk about this in a bit more detail and why the majority of your peers make the mistake of not taking the opportunity to have an experience which will differentiate themselves from other graduates when going for future roles in their industry.
An Employer’s Perspective
I’ve said this many times before, if you are really passionate about the industry for which you are studying for, then you would take any opportunity that will provide you with not only more insight into it, but give you those industry specific skills.
It’s shocking to see the number of graduates who claim they are perfect for an upper tier graduate role with no prior work experience in that field. Why would an employer choose you over someone else? What makes you different?
In fact according to an article published by Forbes online in a study conducted by the Corporation for National and community service, employers felt that candidates who had completed volunteering work had an increase in their employability by 27%.
In a separate study conducted by The Centre of Economic and Policy Research, they found that people who volunteered between 20 – 99 hours had a 7% increase of finding employment one year later compared to those that didn’t.
This is where volunteering abroad can help you to get noticed when future recruiters compare your credentials to the 100’s of other candidates who will apply for the same role.
It’s a combination of a number of things that this will communicate to your future boss:
– You have gained relevant industry skills.
– You have an insight into different working practices from companies in other countries which you can bring to the role.
– You are able to adapt to new environments and still perform your duties.
– A wider perspective on elements related to your chosen industry from not only a national, but an international perspective.
– The fact that the position was voluntary shows your commitment to your field of work and that money is not your principle driving factor.
– Put yourself in the position of a hiring manager. What seems more attractive? A candidate that has gained industry experience in the same city, and in a similar company to all of the other applicants? Or, a candidate who has gained experience in the same industry but from an organisation in a different country, with a different culture and approach to the same things?
Who stands out?
Your own Personal Development
Throughout my time as a career professional, I realised a long while back that our professional development is inexplicably tied to our personal development.We should always be enhancing both, but a person’s personal development can sometimes be the deciding factor for a hire as it tends to stand out more.
Volunteering abroad will enrich your personal development to no end. As I said, I kept in touch with some of my previous graduates and the way they have described just how much gaining experience abroad has benefitted them is inspiring. In addition to enhancing their soft skills, which for some was a real eye opener as no other situation will literally force you to interact with people vastly different to you. They also mentioned how their network within their industry went from national to international.One graduate made so many connections that she has since gone back to the country where she did the voluntary work and is now managing a whole department for a large consulting firm.
A trend I have noticed is that the personal development tends to be a lot stronger with people who have had international experience and this is noticeable in particular at the interview stage with a potential employer.
Think long term career projections
Remember! Put yourself in the shoes of the employer. After seeing 100’s of CV you will be looking for someone with that slightly out of the ordinary thing on their CV or cover letter. Nothing screams ‘Different and intriguing’ more than an experience that you went out of your way to gain from an environment dissimilar to your own.
Check out our opportunity portal here to start applying for your volunteering opportunity.
This article was written by Rohan Harris. He is the founder of www.Inter-CV.com, Director at Gouni Careers, consultant and public speaker. He is passionate about careers, guiding young people, personal & Professional development, as well as business.
The main goal of Inter-CV is to assist students in their career journey while in the UK, ensuring they make the right decisions to enter their desired industry. You can find out more at www.inter-cv.com