Believe it or not volunteering can be great for your job search. It adds value to your resume and may be that one thing that puts you ahead of other candidates when applying for jobs. Employers like to see applicants who have demonstrated motivation, initiative, enthusiasm, and who have a genuine interest in helping other people.

You can use your skills and time to help others while also gaining valuable experience, on both a personal and a career level. Whatever your background or experience you are likely to have skills that others value greatly.

'Doing volunteer work when you finish school is a way to help you explore the world of work and gain a good perspective on your career goals.'

Through volunteering you can:

  • challenge yourself through new experiences
  • share your skills
  • learn new and transferable skills
  • expand your personal and professional networks
  • learn about an industry
  • find new things you like to do
  • use skills that you may not have a chance to use in your paid work.

For example, you can become involved in community groups and organisations that help you to build teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Doing volunteer work when you finish school is another way to help you explore the world of work and gain a good perspective on your career goals. If you're thinking of taking a gap year after finishing school, you could combine travelling and volunteer work. There are many opportunities all over the world to volunteer for short or long periods of time.

Finding volunteer work

If you're interested in doing some volunteer work, there are many opportunities available. You should think about the kind of activity you would like to do (such as working with animals or charity fundraising) and then find some organisations or people you can get in touch with.

Each state and territory has a volunteering centre, which lists current volunteer positions and gives information about your rights as a volunteer and the legal requirements in your state or territory.

Unless you're looking for a volunteering opportunity that requires specialist skills, you don't need any specific training to be a volunteer. However, once you take on a volunteer role, you might find that there are certain skills that would help you to do the job better. Don't be afraid to ask the organisation if they offer training and, if so, remember to add it to your resume.

Know your rights as a volunteer

A volunteer environment is a workplace even though you are not being paid. Therefore volunteers do have rights, some of which are written into legislation.

As a volunteer you have the right to:

  • accurate and truthful information about the organisation
  • look at the organisation's volunteer policy and other policy documents affecting your work
  • interviews and selection processes that are free of bias
  • agreed working hours
  • an agreed job description
  • be properly trained to do the job
  • a healthy and safe work environment
  • be covered by adequate insurance provided by the organisation you work for
  • reimbursement for any money you spend on behalf of the organisation in the course of your work
  • effective grievance procedures
  • not be used during an industrial dispute to perform work usually done by a paid worker
  • confidentiality, and your personal information being managed according to the Privacy Act 1988.

You can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more information about your rights and responsibilities as a volunteer.

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