Every day as a Talent Officer with carecareers I speak to job seekers who are entirely new to the disability and community care sector. Their previous jobs may be in the corporate sector, in hospitality, retail or the arts – their reasons for change are as varied as their careers up to this point.
What the majority of these job seekers share in common is that they have little to no professional experience in the community sector, and making that change is universally intimidating.
After many years of maybe working in an office or retail environment, you may have been thinking yourself of giving direct support work, or another type of role in the sector, a try – but where to from here?
While carecareers advertises a vast array of roles, we frequently advise newcomers that when starting out in the sector they may like to consider frontline support positions – these are roles that most of the time involve working with clients one-on-one.
Essential requirements for these type of roles most often include a driver’s licence and a first aid certificate, and, above anything else, a good set of values – empathy, discretion and adaptability.
Even so, while making the change into the sector, with or without the need for qualifications you don’t currently have, making such a big change can feel like a big plunge.
Instead of taking such a big plunge you might want to take a small dip first. Volunteering for an organisation is one way of doing that and it’s a great opportunity to get a feel for the work available in the sector
. It can also help you achieve a sense of where you may want to go in your disability or community care career.
Making yourself known to an employer as a volunteer is also an advantage – your sense of commitment may strike them when the next job vacancy comes up.
Taking on volunteering opportunities can ease your first steps into an entirely new role without the pressure of formal applications or interviews too. These opportunities can also give you a boost of experience for your resume, broaden your outlook on the type of work that is out there, and your experience may also help you discover skills you didn’t realise you had.
The best advice I’ve been given as a job seeker myself is create your own experience. All too often people I speak to undervalue the experience they’ve had. Callers to carecareers will begin by saying they have no experience in the community sector, but they then go on to mention they’ve been caring for a parent, that they’ve been facilitating community art classes or that they’re an experienced manager.
Knowing what you have to offer an organisation is vital when making an application, and volunteering is a way by which you can discover your own essential qualities.
Irrespective of the career benefits, volunteering can also be a very rewarding experience!
Getting started with volunteering
Try a volunteer job search on the carecareers website first. We have a number of volunteer roles being advertised at the moment from various organisations, including Recreation Rendezvous, Down Syndrome NSW and Eastern Respite & Recreation.
You might also like to read some of the stories in the True Stories section of the carecareers site
– many people now working in the sector started off as volunteers.
If we can help you with a volunteering role please contact the Careers Centre – just call 1300 637 637 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org