The coronavirus pandemic has seen millions of Australians out of work. If that’s you or someone you know, all is not lost: there are still things you can do to put your best foot forward, experts say.
And if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, there’s still plenty you can do – like up-skilling – that will freshen up your resume for when the jobs market kicks back into gear after the Covid-19 crisis passes.
According to research from Seek, a majority (85 per cent) of employers believe volunteering is just as credible as paid work, especially if the role and industry is relevant to what you do.
But volunteering also builds on your soft skills such as adaptability, problem-solving and your ability to engage with different groups of people, Seek Volunteer head Rebecca Miller told Yahoo Finance.
“[Additionally], volunteering can also demonstrate valuable personality traits and gives potential employers a glimpse into who you are outside of work,” she said.
It also shows candidates’ dedication and commitment to a cause, while also giving recruiters a better picture of your values and personality.
“It can also help you to stand out in the application process, giving your resume a point of difference that can catch a hiring manager’s eye,” Miller said.
When recruiters weigh up two similar candidates but one has additional volunteering experience, this may well be what tips the scale in your favour.
“Many companies are hiring more and more on values and cultural fit,” Miller said. “Your volunteer experience demonstrates your values in action.
“It demonstrates your commitment to help others for the benefit of a stronger community. This demonstrates to a hirer that you are likely to make a good teammate to others in your division and make a great cultural contribution to the organisation.”
When you volunteer, everyone benefits: the candidate gets added industry experience and builds their skills; the organisation benefits from a skilled professional; and the firm the candidate is applying for gets a clearer picture of a potential hire.
“Volunteering in the area that you want to work in can give you a chance to ‘try before you buy,’ helping you to work out if this is a field in which you could happily forge a career,” said Miller.
Many charities will offer volunteering opportunities in areas such as communications, human resources, IT and marketing.
“Another advantage of volunteering is that you’ll be able to strengthen your professional network, including potential referees,” she said, adding that contacts made through a volunteering gig can make for great referees.
How to show off your volunteering experience
You might be tempted to put your volunteering experience under the ‘extra-curricular’ sub-heading of your resume, but there’s good reason you can put it up top under ‘work experience,’ said Miller.
“Most hirers won’t mind if that experience was paid or unpaid work, as long as the experience you gained was relevant. If it’s not relevant, you can include it in a separate section on your resume, for ‘volunteer experience,’” Miller told Yahoo Finance.
So treat it like any other role you’ve held, and outline what you’re proud of achieving from the stint.
“Always make sure to call out your accomplishments in as much detail as possible, even if you don’t think they’re important, and explain what was required of you, and how you excelled in your position.”
If you’re interested in volunteering your skills and experience, there are a lot of websites that advertise volunteer opportunities, such as https://govolunteer.com.au. Seek also has its own volunteer platform at https://www.volunteer.com.au.
Volunteering Solutions also places students, medical and nursing students, gap year travellers, backpackers and seniors to various programs across the world, and while international travel won’t be allowed for some time yet, there are also locally-based roles at animal conservation organisations.
If you are looking specifically to volunteer for aged care organisations, here are all the ways you can help during the coronavirus crisis.