Those that volunteer stand out, and recent research by Nature Research Australia shows that 86% of hirers believe that relevant volunteering experience can be the deciding factor when choosing between candidates for a role.
As National Volunteer Week draws to an end, it seems timely to revisit the value of volunteering, not just for the individual doing it and the organisation in receipt of the effort, but also for the volunteer's employer or potential employer.
Is your next hire a volunteer?
For the individual, the benefits range from increased self-confidence to improved social connections. For many, the motivation is the ‘feel good factor’ and the act of contributing to their community, but it can also be the professional experience or skills learnt while volunteering that provide value back to the individual. The overwhelming majority of hirers (95%) agree that volunteering is a credible way of gaining real work experience, with 85% believing that volunteering is just as credible as paid work.
For example, according to the 2015 SEEK Change Report, a key challenge for workers over the age of 45 is the ability to keep up with a changing work environment. As a recruiter or hiring manager, candidates who've used their time volunteering to stay up-to-date with changing environments and technology can help to position them as the next relevant hire or promotion. Conversely, for someone starting off on their career path, with little or no experience, it can be their foot in the door and the way to make relevant connections.
What to ask a candidate with volunteer experience
If you see volunteering experience on someone’s CV, some key questions that you can ask to draw more insight into this person's drive, technical capabilities or cultural fit are:
- Drive – what made you volunteer?
- Technical – what skills have you learnt from your volunteering experience?
- Cultural – how has your volunteering experience helped you be more [insert relevant cultural attribute to your hiring needs, i.e. motivated, socially-responsible, proactive, self-starter, supportive, a people person, trustworthy, team-oriented, e.t.c.]
The benefits of volunteering are vast, the need even greater. Perhaps it’s time to consider what candidates who volunteer can do for you and your next hire.