There are many reasons job seekers should consider Volunteering to boost their career or increase their chances of landing a great new role. There are also some very good reasons why Volunteering experience can be attractive to employers. That’s where we’ll focus in this article.
What makes a great employee?
When you have an important role to fill you know that the ‘perfect’ person doesn’t exist. But you do want to find someone who’ll make a great contribution and that’s fair enough. I don’t know about you, but there are 10 attributes I’d be looking for. When I see all these qualities in a candidate, I can be confident the hire is going to work out well – at least most of the time.
I’ll use our Volbop Superhero CAPE to summarise them:
- Relevant skills and qualifications
- Experience in a similar role
- If no directly similar experience, clearly transferable skills
- Willing to take direction and open to feedback
- Strongly self-motivated
- I like a diversity of different personalities on the team, not an army of clones
- Natural style suited to the role – thinker, doer, communicator, organiser?
- Committed to our business for a reason
- Aligned with our values
What makes a great Volunteer?
In an ideal world I think the list of attributes of a great Volunteer would be almost exactly the same as for a great employee with a couple of small but important differences.
I’d probably flip that list upside down.
It would be crucial that the Volunteer has clear and personally powerful reasons to engage with our cause. I’d want to know those reasons and see evidence of what they have done about it before fronting up to our organisation. Even just a history of donation can be a good indication of their commitment.
Then I’d want to make sure their personality or style is going to work well within my existing team and that their attitude is sound. I’m after Volunteers who can accept feedback, take accountability and take responsibility for themselves.
Finally, of course relevant skills and experience would be important. But for me they are not the main driver of a great Volunteering engagement. In fact, with the right attitude and personality and a reasonable degree of intelligence, any skills and knowledge they need can be gained through training. It’s the organisation’s responsibility to provide that.
Knowing what you’re looking for is a great start. Then you have to find them.
An opportunity for both of you?
Bringing someone into your organisation as a Volunteer can have benefits for both of you, well beyond the original reason you engaged them.
As their manager, you get to see how they work, how quickly they learn and how well they can integrate with your paid team, which is not always easy for Volunteers to do as they are “outsiders”. So, when you suddenly need to fill a paid role, you have a ready-made candidate who’s already proven themselves and could potentially step into the role.
That could save you a lot of time, money and hassle.
For the Volunteers, in addition to the satisfaction of making a contribution, it’s a terrific opportunity to learn new skills, broaden their experience and grow their networks.
For those who are ultimately looking for a paid role, they can use these elements in their resume and job applications. They’re also often used by hiring managers as an indicator that the person is likely to be a good employee.
Some extra resources
There are of course important legal and compliance issues to take into account when you engage Volunteers. To be absolutely sure of what’s legally appropriate it’s wise to get expert advice but to get you started there’s some clear information on the Employment New Zealand website
Here is an interesting article from Work and Income that may be helpful too. It has several examples of how people have got a start towards their next role through a Volunteer assignment.
Here at Volunteering Bay of Plenty a key part of our mission is to help Volunteers and organisations get together.
Whether you’re looking for a Volunteer role or trying to find suitable Volunteers, we’re here to help.
Phone: 07-571 3714