Why Volunteering Gives Back
The number of people holding a degree has more than doubled in the last two decades. Although it is true that graduates statistically go on to earn a heftier wage than those who left formal education after GCSEs, they are not exempt from the effects of competition. The early articulation of “when I grow up I’m going to be…” has become the beginning of a far more extended journey; one in which individuals are having to take on newer challenges within an ever-tightening market place. Statistics show that competition for jobs is very strong: during the last graduate influx into the world of work in 2013, there were on average 85 applications per single graduate job.
So what is the secret formula for success? Ambition? Absolutely. But part of that ambition should involve taking a step back and thinking of other ways to add value – to your CV as well as your community. The challenge is to set yourself apart from all those other candidates who are also ready to wow the interview panel with their fresh perspective on how to improve the bottom line. What makes you different?
It’s time to start thinking about giving back.
The benefits of volunteering are manifold. Aside from the contribution to society, volunteering can also increase your job prospects. It shows you can juggle, extends your social and professional network, gives you new skills, enables you to understand others’ points of view, and provides you with endless material for all those tricky “tell me about a time when…” questions. To quote the statistics, a recent LinkedIn survey of 2,000 professionals found that 20% of hiring managers have offered jobs based on a candidate’s volunteer experience. In the US, the Corporation for National and Community Service also released figures that suggested active volunteers were 27% more likely to get a job than non-volunteers.
But the final reason for thinking about volunteering is simply that it feels good. ‘Happiness Economics’ is a growing field of study (The Prime Minister himself is apparently a fan). In addition to contributing energy to projects needing attention, research has consistently identified volunteering as high on the list of factors that help make up a happy life. Surely any activity that serves to make you both more competent and more content must be worth considering – why not give it a go?
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