Why volunteer? Good reasons to offer your skills for free

If the coffee morning circuit is starting to lose its appeal, but the transition from stay-at-home-mum to full-on career girl seems daunting, volunteering is the way to go.
Career coach Fiona Clark, founder of Inspired Mums, advocates voluntary work as a stepping stone for anyone who is unemployed, taking a career break or wanting to change direction.
Fiona Clark photo 20131Think creatively when it comes to voluntary work – there are lots of opportunities – from offering your marketing skills to local charities, doing the PTA’s books, reading to the elderly in their homes or helping to organise the local sports events.

Fiona’s top benefits of volunteering:

• Learn new skills: Computer skills a bit rusty? Not sure about using social media? Volunteering is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn new ones on the job.

• Boost your confidence: We all know the brain-numbing effect being a full-time mum can have. By getting out of the house and using skills you’ve long forgotten you have, you’ll rediscover your strengths.

• Polish your halo: Doing something for others – other than the relentless stacking of the dishwasher, will be like candy for the soul.

• Increase your network: You’ll be interacting with other adults and this can only be a good thing. Who knows, someone you meet may be able to give you a fantastic reference when you apply for jobs

• Have fun: There’s nothing like a good cause or doing something purposeful together to help you bond with others.

• Show your passion: Your volunteering role will give you something interesting and current to talk about in your CV and during an interview – and will really demonstrate to a potential employer that you’re serious about working in this field!

• Test the water: Volunteering gives you a chance to ‘try out’ a career before committing to a job or course that you may not be 100% sure about.

How to make volunteering work for you:
“If you have a certain career path in mind, I would highly recommend that you find voluntary work that is relevant to the journey you are on,” says Fiona.
If you want to become a teaching assistant, offering your time to help children learn to read or accompanying school outings is a great idea; or if nursing sounds good, volunteer as a carer for the elderly to find out if this path is right for you.
If it’s work experience you’re after – then consider companies you’d like to work for and what roles you’re keen to work in. Next, use your network or approach them speculatively to land a few weeks’ work experience. Remember you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

ONLINE resources – to help you find volunteer work
http://www.xchangebucks.org.uk/volunteering/
https://www.bucksconnect.org.uk/community/ways-into-work-and-volunteering.aspx
http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/jobs/charities/volunteer-management/
http://www.do-it.org.uk/

Download Fiona’s FREE e-book“For mums stuck in a career rut – 8 steps to finding work you love” TODAY. It’s packed with tips, exercises and inspiring case studies to get you out of your rut and on the way to your new career.

Fiona Clark is a qualified confidence and career coach who founded Inspired Mums to inspire women to reach their full potential at work. She is passionate about helping women find fulfilling, family friendly roles.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/inspiredmumscoaching
Twitter: @Inspired_Mums