How credible is voluntary work as experience?

by Chloe Taylor13 May 2015
This week is National Volunteer Week – and newly released research has shown that those involved in onboarding new employees are paralleling voluntary work with paid work experience when assessing candidates’ potential. 
 
According to a new study, 95% of hiring managers regard a history of voluntary work as a valuable asset in candidates.
 
The study, conducted by Nature Research in April, had 524 respondents who had been involved in the hiring process during the previous 12 months.
 
It was also found that 95% of respondents agreed that volunteering is a credible way of gaining work experience, particularly for first-time job seekers. If voluntary work is related to candidates’ career aspirations, 85% said that they believe it to be equally as credible as paid work.
 
Researchers also found that volunteering experience provides prospective employers with a clearer idea of a candidate’s personality and values. The top three personality traits associated with individuals who had volunteered were being motivated, socially responsible and proactive.
 
“This research puts hard facts behind what we’ve been saying for years, that volunteering constitutes real-work experience, and that it can provide huge benefits for those people looking to not only give back, but also further their professional career,” said Amanda Robinson, Head of SEEK Volunteer. “Volunteering offers new challenges, a new network of peers and a different work space, which can provide the perfect environment to learn new skills or build networks in areas of interest.”
 
“Volunteering can demonstrate personality traits that are sometimes difficult to convey in a profile or interview,” Robinson added. “Hirers are also telling us that volunteering can speak real volumes about a candidate’s dedication and commitment to causes.”
 
The survey’s findings suggest that employers who do not value voluntary work are in the minority – 92% of hiring managers see it as an advantage when conducting interviews, while 86% said they believed it could be the deciding factor when deciding between two candidates for a job.
 
“Being a volunteer shows us that a candidate has strong personal beliefs and is prepared to go above and beyond what is expected – that they’re prepared to work for those beliefs,” Aaron Williams, executive general manager, Australia and New Zealand, at Talent International. “They understand their importance in contributing to wider society, giving them a real sense of community and conscience. Volunteering can also involve a lot of fundraising, event management, logistics and communications skills, which go a long way in any workplace.”
 

COMMENTS

  • by Tony 13/05/2015 11:58:04 AM

    I agree that volunteering is a great option for both employers and job seekers but recent decisions by the FWC on volunteering are making this more and more difficult as it is seen merely as unpaid work.

    Many employers are now having to review their volunteer programs in light of these decisions.

  • by Tony 13/05/2015 1:02:14 PM

    I agree that volunteering is a great option for both employers and job seekers but recent decisions by the FWC on volunteering are making this more and more difficult as it is seen merely as unpaid work.

    Many employers are now having to review their volunteer programs in light of these decisions.

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