The Benefits of Volunteering and How It Can Enhance Your Job Search

When you're actively seeking employment, you may find yourself with extra free time in between job interviews and applications. Instead of letting that time go to waste, consider the potential benefits of volunteering. Volunteering involves working for an organization without receiving monetary compensation, or sometimes only receiving reimbursement for expenses.

Types of Voluntary Work

Voluntary work is not limited to a specific location; it occurs both nationally and internationally. Many charities rely on volunteers to sustain their operations, and individuals contribute in various capacities. Some charities operate physical and online shops that depend entirely on volunteers to stay open. In these shops, you may engage with customers, design shop windows, manage inventory, answer phone calls, or handle administrative tasks. Online, you can assist with website content or engage in conversations with individuals seeking help. Other charities require support in offices, helplines, fundraising efforts, or community work.

Numerous websites provide information about volunteering opportunities in your area. If you're searching for voluntary work in England, visit For volunteering in Scotland, seek advice from, and for opportunities in Wales, explore

How Volunteering Can Benefit You

Apart from benefiting the local community or the charity itself, volunteering can also enhance your prospects of securing a job. Volunteering allows you to gain experience in various ways, demonstrating to potential employers that you are not afraid of hard work.

Your CV, one of your most essential tools when job hunting, serves as a comprehensive record of your education, employment history, life experiences, and personal qualities. If you include volunteer work alongside regular jobs and training, it leaves a positive impression on people reviewing your CV. It shows your eagerness to contribute to society, your willingness to work without monetary compensation, and the valuable experience you have gained. Continuing to volunteer while seeking employment also demonstrates to future employers that you are proactive and engaged, even during periods of unemployment.

On a personal level, volunteering provides valuable training for potential jobs. For instance, if you lack experience in sales but are interested in pursuing a career in that field or find it to be the only available option, volunteering at a charity shop can teach you customer interaction skills, cash register management, and inventory handling. Similarly, volunteering in a charity's office or a similar environment can offer valuable office work experience and networking opportunities. You never know if someone you meet during your volunteer work may run a store and be looking to hire someone just like you!

Explore the various voluntary opportunities and identify areas that interest you both as a hobby and as potential career paths. This scenario is ideal as it provides training, allows you to connect with industry professionals, and enables you to use your spare time productively. Remember, volunteering doesn't have to be a full-time commitment; dedicating a few hours or a couple of days per week leaves time for job searching and meeting the requirements of your Jobseeker's Allowance.

Receiving Benefits While Volunteering

It's crucial to note that volunteering should not involve receiving monetary compensation, except for expenses such as travel or childcare. Receiving payment for your volunteer work, even while claiming certain benefits, constitutes benefit fraud, which carries severe penalties. However, you are allowed to receive reimbursements for expenses related to your volunteer work, such as travel or work-related clothing.

While claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, you have certain obligations that must be fulfilled, even if you're volunteering. Failure to meet these obligations may render you ineligible for the allowance. Volunteering is permissible in this situation, and there are no restrictions on the amount of time you can volunteer, as long as you continue to fulfill your job-seeking obligations. You must provide evidence that you are actively seeking employment, applying for jobs, and attending interviews. It's important to maintain your weekly appointments at the Jobcentre Plus, although they can be rescheduled to accommodate your volunteering schedule. Jobcentre Plus acknowledges how volunteering can enhance your chances of securing paid employment, so they will make efforts to support you as long as you keep them informed about your activities and continue your job search.

If you receive other benefits, such as Tax Credits or Carer's Allowance, it's advisable to consult the respective organizations to understand their rules and regulations regarding volunteering. For instance, to qualify for Carer's Allowance, you generally need to be available to care for the person you look after for at least 35 hours per week.

The Work Together Scheme

Jobcentre Plus offers the Work Together scheme, collaborating with specific companies to provide voluntary placements that enhance experience and training. These placements may involve vacancies that need to be filled, and the organizations involved may be non-charitable entities. Some companies are happy to have volunteers to assist, gain experience, and fulfill roles they cannot handle themselves. By participating in this scheme, you gain access to numerous voluntary jobs in the local community, and your advisor can provide valuable guidance and support.

Volunteering presents an opportunity to make a positive impact while also developing skills and experiences that can boost your job search. By leveraging volunteering as part of your overall strategy, you can enhance your CV, expand your network, and demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth.

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