Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community you live in, or to a particular area of need. As well as the direct benefits of serving others, volunteering looks great on your CV and can help you develop excellent new skills. You may even undertake valuable training as part of your role. But while it provides great work experience, volunteering won’t pay the bills. So how do you turn a voluntary post into a paid employment?
Do a good job! This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you’re not getting paid for your work you may not be giving 100%. Do everything you can to show that you are diligent, punctual, consistent and dependable, just as you would in a paid role.
Be passionate. Most people volunteer because they’re passionate about helping people or a cause. Express your passion and be prepared to go the extra mile to meet the organisation’s objectives. Tweet about your cause where appropriate and network with likeminded people. Not only will this get you noticed, but it may also fuel other people’s passion.
Build strong relationships. It’s important that you get on with fellow volunteers and any paid members of the organisation. Don’t allow a ‘them and us’ attitude to develop and avoid negativity and gossip. Be friendly and helpful, taking an interest in those around you. If appropriate, get involved in social activities and make yourself a valuable part of the team even during extracurricular events. You never know how important these connections might be down the line, and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends if nothing else.
Show initiative. It might be that you see a fundraising opportunity no one else has, or can see a better way of doing something. You may have training or experience that no one else in the team has. Offer up suggestions for improvement with humility and don’t be offended if they’re not snapped up. Every organisation needs vision and initiative, and sooner or later your ideas could make you indispensable. You may even find that a new role is created for you in light of your continued positive input.
Stay connected. If your volunteer role comes to an end and you still haven’t been offered a paid position, don’t lose heart. It might be that there isn’t a post for you right now, but that could change in the near future. Keep in touch with your bosses and colleagues, and let them know you’re interested in returning as an employee. Don’t forget to update your CV with any new skills, qualifications and experience you gain, and send them an up-to-date version at timely intervals to keep on file. It’s also worth keeping an open mind, as a similar organisation may be looking for someone just like you with the useful experience you’ve gained in this role.
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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25