Volunteering is no longer thought of as being a gap year activity for those who don't know what to do with their lives. It is a choice many make in order to give back to the world while also increasing their career prospects or bolstering their current position. Volunteer work can help to broaden your horizons and knowledge of the world, and will look fantastic on your CV too.

Potential employers will be impressed

Times have changed, no longer do we have to jump straight into a career after university. Taking a year or even a few months off to volunteer will help you to gain skills and practical experience, both of which will impress your prospective employers. Having the competencies that volunteering provides will help you to be hired – in fact, a recent study shows that 76% of hiring executives believe that volunteer experiences makes job candidates more desirable. Time spent organising the finances of a community project or helping out with a charity event could very well set you aside from other applicants.

It shows initiative and passion

Volunteering for charities shows your prospective employers that you have the spark needed to take initiative and tackle problems head-on, rather than simply following the crowd. Displaying your charitable side demonstrates the fact that you will be a good fit for an ambitious and forward thinking company. You will stand out because of your passion and initiative. You may have taken part in a programme that requires you to think creatively, such as an MSF internship in the human resources sector. Showing that you are able to handle this type of stress, and taking on this responsibility because the cause is meaningful to you will show your possible employers that you stand for what you believe in.

You will learn new skills

Volunteering efforts engage volunteers and encourage them to use their skills, and teach them new skill sets at the same time. There is no shortage of nonprofit organisations who need people to perform difficult tasks or organise fundraisers for their cause. These organisations will teach you how to think creatively. You may be tasked with working on improving their website, tracking donations and managing the bookkeeping section or even organising events for the charity. All of these skills and abilities will add to your CV in a positive manner, demonstrating to your employer that you are able to bring unique skills to the table.

Your network will expand

Volunteering involves a lot of social interaction, both with fellow volunteers and members of the public. Those who you volunteer with can provide a networking opportunity as well as possible friendship. Volunteers are often diverse, which means that you will be able to network with people from all walks of life and some may even hold possible job opportunities. It is important to keep a detailed list of the people you meet during your volunteering period, including the staff, board members, and clients of the charity, as well as other volunteers and suppliers. You may just need to contact someone who could provide a solution to a problem in your new office. Having the right contacts can go a long way to becoming employed, too.

It can build your confidence

Taking part in a volunteering program can help to boost your confidence if you are between jobs or are feeling discouraged in your current position. Volunteers are always needed, and this can help you to feel useful and valued, something which many job seekers miss when unemployed. A confident applicant is always preferred to one who is unsure of themselves and where their passions and interests truly lie. It will also show employers that you are a productive member of society, and that you are able to take new challenges without becoming stressed or overwhelmed.

Employment gaps in your CV are filled in

It is an unfortunate reality that a CV with large gaps between jobs does not reflect positively on you as a prospective employee. The interviewer will not be able to tell whether the time was spent actively searching for work or simply sitting at home. If you have volunteer experience listed for those periods when you were unemployed, this will make your CV look better and more professional. It will also tell your potential employer that you are someone who has a proactive approach to life. Use your responsibilities as a title—"project coordinator" or "instructor”, but remember to not be misleading and ensure the employer knows it was volunteer experience.

Volunteering is valuable

Volunteering your time to a cause that you are passionate about is never a waste. If you are able to make a difference in some way, then always take the opportunity to do so. Not only will you be helping an important cause but your potential employees will view it positively and it can increase the possibility of being hired for your dream job.