WITH jobs scarce on the ground volunteering can give job-hunters a sharp edge on their competitors, according to one recent graduate.
Gemma Walsh, who is from Lisburn and now working as a physiotherapist in Scotland, said she would probably be still looking for work had she not volunteered for local charity, Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC).
Over the past few years, the 23 year-old Lisburn woman has completed an abseil for the charity, which offers practical and emotional support to children with cancer and their families. She has also given up her spare time and helped out at bucket collections.
Gemma explained why dedicating time and energy to a worthwhile cause can help job-seekers bolster their CVs and get on the career ladder.
"The job market is more competitive than ever and companies have their pick of candidates," she said.
"Volunteering really does give you
that edge in an interview. Everyone is going to have similar
qualifications and work experience but if you can show you have dedicated your time to a good cause, it sets you apart and gives you a bit of an edge on the competition.
"Volunteering gives you something interesting to talk about in an interview. It also shows your prospective employer you are a hard worker who can be trusted - great qualities in any employee."
Gemma said volunteering also allows people to develop invaluable workplace skills. 'A lot of volunteering involves meeting new people," she continued. "I am quite shy so helping out NICFC has enabled me to come out of my shell and develop communication skills. Volunteering also helps people develop organisational and team work skills. On top of all that, it's often brilliant craic as most people are up for a laugh and keen to make the experience fun."
NI Cancer Fund for children is currently recruiting volunteers for its Christmas campaign. Natasha Walsh from the charity explained NICFC is looking for people from all walks of life and from every corner of the country.
"In addition to volunteers to help us out with bucket collections and other events we are also looking for volunteer coordinators, who will take on an event-management type role. The coordinators will decide where they would like to do the collection/event, round up volunteers and draw up rotas for the day etc.
"There is a lot of fun to be had with this as coordinators can basically make the event their own - they can pick a theme and dress up in costumes. It's a great way for anyone to gain skills in teamwork, event management and organisational skills. NICFC will be there every step of the way to offer advice and ensure the event is a success," she explained. Anyone interested in volunteering or becoming a volunteer co-ordinator this Christmas, or at any time, should contact Natasha Walsh on 028 90 805599 or email Natasha@nicfc.com.