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Employer Resource Center


How Volunteer Experience Can Be Integrated Into Job Experience

Skills gained volunteering can be transferred to paid employment

Volunteer experience can be an important element to consider when recruiting employees. Many of the skills acquired in volunteer work can be transferred successfully to paid employment. Companies can identify and recruit top talent in today’s multigenerational workforce by recruiting persons who have used volunteer experience to increase their skills and experience.

See also: AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

A significant number of volunteer positions have job descriptions with specific duties and responsibilities. These jobs usually require an accounting of hours worked, tasks completed, lines of supervision and performance evaluation.

Edwin Redfern Jr., senior issue specialist for Workforce Issues at AARP, advises that “Some applicants may possess unique transferable skills acquired through structured volunteer work that, when added to paid work experiences, may make them highly qualified for the job they are applying for.” However, recruiters should review this experience with the same diligence as paid work experience.

Accordingly, marketing jobs to experienced workers requires tailoring the message to volunteers and selecting methods of communication most likely to attract them. As a result, the content and tone of the message must communicate in a concise way the kinds of skills you are seeking. List the jobs available, state the key benefits and explain how a person should respond. The message should convey that people with volunteer experience have something to contribute to your organization, e.g., “volunteer experience welcome.”

When reviewing applications and résumés, determine whether the candidate is a good match for the job by evaluating their volunteer performance. For example:

  • Were there specific tasks assigned?
  • What were the hours of work and supervision?
  • What were the skills and competencies required for the job?
  • Was the volunteer using acquired skills and experience?
  • Did the job require additional training?
  • Was the job completed in a timely fashion?
  • Did the position have specific objectives?
  • Was it a supervisory position?

In addition, recruiters can also tap the networks that use volunteers by contacting local volunteer agencies to let them know that their companies are hiring people and volunteer experience may be applicable. Frequently these agencies have bulletin boards and newsletters in which a company can advertise its jobs.

Volunteer experience can bring value to a company. Many of the skills acquired in volunteer work can be transferred successfully to the paid workforce, and companies can identify and recruit top talent in today’s multigenerational workforce by considering persons with volunteer experience as potential employees.

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