Volunteering in aged care is one of the best ways to give back to the community. Whether it’s spending quality time, helping them engage their favourite hobbies or just lending a listening ear, your presence truly enriches the lives of our residents.
But, what may surprise many people about volunteering is just how mutually beneficial it is. Beyond the benefits like improving your health and mental wellbeing, being a volunteer can actually take you far in your career. Not only does it help you develop key skills, but it’s also looked upon favourably by prospective employers.
Read on to learn about 6 ways being an aged care volunteer can give you a career boost.
1. You can make new connections
Any time you broaden your horizon and get out of your comfort zone, it naturally expands your network. Spending time volunteering in aged care is no exception! When you volunteer, you meet not only the residents but also the staff, family members of residents and other volunteers.
Of course, it’s important to be equally kind to everyone you meet, without wanting to get anything out of the interaction. But, you also never know who you’re going to run into. Maybe that resident’s daughter is the CEO of your dream organisation and raves about the lovely volunteer they’ve been spending time with. Or, perhaps you meet another volunteer who is an HR recruiter looking for someone with exactly your skills?
You never know what opportunities can arise just from being a good person, in the right place at the right time.
2. It can be a great resume bridge
Are you currently between jobs or perhaps you’re in the process of changing careers? Volunteering can be an excellent way to bridge the gap between roles.
Not only is it an extremely rewarding way to spend some of your newfound free time, but it can actually help you when you start interviewing for roles. Employers tend to look more favourably upon candidates who undertook volunteer work during times of unemployment.
It shows that you’re driven, self, motivated and proactive, which are all incredibly valuable skills in an employee. Plus, let’s face it — when a hirer asks “So, what have you been doing for the last six months”, volunteering at a retirement home is a far more compelling response than “watching TV in my PJs!”
3. It speaks volumes about your character
It takes a special kind of person to volunteer in aged care. To even have that initial interest in spending your free time this way, you must be altruistic, selfless and generous. But, there are also other traits you need to be a successful volunteer, such as being patient and having strong communication skills.
Many employers are becoming more aware of the importance of culture fit and ‘soft’ skills when hiring a new employee. However, this can be a tough thing to prove, beyond just saying “I’m good with people.” Volunteering can give you a tangible example of your character and give you an edge over the competition.
4. It builds relevant career experience
It can be tough when you’re first starting out in your career or changing industries, and every job ad seems to call for an ‘entry-level professional with 10 years of experience’ “How am I expected to get that experience if nobody will give me a chance!” you may be wondering.
Well, volunteering is the perfect way to build your resume in the meantime, with SEEK data showing that 95% of employers consider this to be a credible type of experience. This is particularly helpful if you’re seeking a role in a people-facing industry, like hospitality, healthcare or human resources. But the experience and skills you’ll develop in working in aged care really translate across any role in any industry.
5. It develops and strengths key skills
When you volunteer in aged care, you develop real-world skills that will serve you well, no matter what career path you go down. These include listening skills, problem-solving, creativity and communication. However, at Scalabrini, we also encourage our volunteers to use and build on their own unique skills. Whether you speak a second language, love to dance or a are personal trainer who can lead an exercise session with our residents, there’s always a way you can put your passions to good use.
6. It makes you a more well-rounded person
It’s all well and good to be the most skilled candidate in the room. But, at the end of the day, we spend roughly one-third of our lives in the workplace. So, people naturally want to spend time with others who are kind and interesting!
By getting you out of your comfort zone and exposing you to new experiences and people, volunteering in aged care helps make you a more multi-dimensional person. It also exposes you to different views and perspectives, so that you can be more open-minded and empathetic to others. Plus, you’ll likely have many great stories about the amazing residents you’ll meet, that you can share in the breakroom or at work drinks!
At the end of the day, the best reason to volunteer in aged care is that you genuinely care about helping others. But — you never know, you may find it ends up helping you even more than it helps our residents, especially when it comes to your professional development.