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Top 10 Volunteering and CV tips for Job Seekers

Brian Hockey (edited by Hazel Broad)
Primary interest
Life skills and Team Work

Volunteering can boost your confidence, improve your CV and help you find work. It can offer a chance try something new, to gain training and new skills, give you some meaningful routine and demonstrate your determination and commitment to potential employers.

In a survey by Time Bank a national volunteering database it was found that almost three quarters of employers prefer to recruit candidates with volunteering experience on their CV. People who are unemployed and claiming benefits may do as many volunteering hours as they like, provided they let Jobcentre Plus know, and are free to attend interviews. Below you’ll find 10 top tips to help you get a job:

1 Get some careers advice

Arrange a one-to-one confidential interview with an adviser from Next Step who will also be able to tell you about job and training opportunities. Next Step run fortnightly sessions at our town centre shop, email or phone 0118 902 3910 to arrange a free interview. Next Step runs sessions at various locations across Reading. Please call 0800 100 900 to arrange an interview directly.

Reading Voluntary Action’s volunteer matching service can help you find the perfect volunteering opportunity. You can search online, sign up for our weekly email, follow us on Twitter or drop in to our town centre shop for a chat.

2 Produce a CV

Your CV should set out what you can offer an employer: your skills, training, education and experience. It should be no longer than two pages. Next Step can improve you CV or help you produce one from scratch. You can also create a CV online with the Next Step CV builder.

3 Improve your skills

Anyone can benefit from learning new skills. For example, most jobs require you to be familiar with computers. Take advantage of the range of IT and other training courses that are available. Improve your reading and writing skills, (particularly if English is not your first language) or if you need to brush up your English and Maths. Some courses are free. If you are unemployed and claiming benefits you may be able to get your course fees reduced. These organisations can help with training:






4 Find out about financial help to improve your skills

To find out more about the Adult Learning Grant, free tuition and other types of funding that might be available to you, call Next Step on 0800 100 900. A Career Development Loan can help with further training and improve your job prospects.

5 Improve your confidence

Being out of work can dent your confidence. You could take up voluntary work or go on a course to teach you new skills, improve your confidence and help you get back into the routine of work. These organisations can help with advice or courses:


  • A4E, Reading 0118 9588 2570 (the Job Centre must refer applications for A4E courses)



6 Use the Internet

Many jobs are now advertised on-line. If you don’t have internet access at home you can join New Directions and use their computers, or you can use the internet at your local library. Reading’s Central Library is in Abbey Square, King Street, Reading RG1 3BQ, 0118 901 5950 and provides:

    • free computer access for word processing and internet


  • daily newspapers and journals with job listings



  • books on improving your CV and interview skills.



7 Get yourself an e-mail address

So that you can send and receive information from employers, training organisations, colleges or groups you are volunteering with!

Reading Voluntary Action uses Google’s free Gmail service for our email. You can also make use of their other online services: Google Calendar to manage commitments, and Google Docs to store or work on documents (this would be great for getting to your CV, job search letter templates etc, from wherever you are working). There are of course many other free email providers like Hotmail, Yahoo etc.

8 Use lots of different methods to look for work





  • also look in local free newspapers



Copies are available in Reading Libraries and New Directions












Let people know that you are looking for work – ‘word of mouth’ can sometimes be the best way to get a job. Attend any job events or professional groups you can. Use social media (Twitter or Facebook) to let people know what you are after.

Job Centre

Make the most of all the facilities and services they offer.

Employment agencies

See Yellow Pages or search on-line.

9 Show initiative

Contacting firms ‘on spec’ (also known as ‘cold calling’) may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it can achieve results. Many firms employ less than 30 people and most small firms don’t advertise their vacancies. Use the internet, Yellow Pages or Thompson’s Directory to find firms that are in the areas you would like to work, and contact these firms directly.

10 Keep at it!

Be prepared for some employers to not even acknowledge your application. It may take many applications before you eventually find a job. Remember to consider volunteering whilst you search for a job.