Many people who have been on maternity/paternity leave, been unwell or have enjoyed a career break are worried how this gap of unemployment might be interpreted by a potential employer. A great way to do this is take on some volunteering activities. There are many benefits to volunteering including the following:
- Improve your confidence: If you have been in the house a lot it can be quite easy for your confidence to shrink (something you may not expect if you have been working and then go on maternity leave). By volunteering you have a platform to try something new and build on your confidence. The sense of achievement and contributing will underpin your confidence and will hopefully provide a comfortable environment prior to returning to work.
- Opportunity to differentiate yourself: Volunteering can give you the ‘feel good factor’ and an interesting topic to talk about in an interview. This can be especially insightful for employers to see your diverse and transferrable skills as well as providing you a platform to try something new (see below).
- New Skills: Volunteering particularly in a new field will allow you to learn new skills and perhaps in some roles new qualifications. This is an added bonus and something current and relevant to add to your CV.
- Demonstrating transferable Skills: This is great one to offer employers as by volunteering you are showing how adaptable you and that you are able to take on and thrive on a new challenge.
- A potential route to employment: You can use volunteering as an opportunity to re-train or gain the experience necessary to apply for the work or course you wish too. For example if you volunteer as a class room assistant this can improve your chances of being selected for teacher training programmes or if you have or working towards counselling qualifications then volunteering with relevant charities such as the Samaritans or ChildLine may be a good starting point.
If you have been actively volunteering then ensure this added to your CV. Just because this is not paid does not mean it is not as significant as paid employment. If you have a gap of employment in your CV then ensure your volunteering experience is added within the work history section to fully demonstrate your new skills and experience. I hope this helps and good luck!