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Why Volunteer Experience Matters

Recruiters should explore skills, responsibilities of unpaid positions

Volunteer experience can be an important element to consider when recruiting employees. Often, skills acquired in volunteer work are transferable to paid employment.

See also: The surprising truth about older workers

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

Applicants may possess unique skills acquired through volunteer work that, when added to their paid work experience, may make them highly qualified candidates. Recruiters should review this experience with the same eye as paid work experience.

It’s a good strategy to market jobs to experienced workers by tailoring the message to volunteers and selecting methods of communication most likely to reach them. Recruiters can tap the networks that use volunteers by contacting volunteer agencies. Frequently these agencies have bulletin boards, newsletters or websites to advertise job openings.

See also: AARP Life Reimagined for Work employer pledge

Here are some things to consider when looking at volunteers’ experiences:

  • Were they assigned specific tasks?
  • What were the hours of work and supervision?
  • What skills and competencies did they need for the job?
  • Did they use acquired skills and experience?
  • Did the job require training?
  • Was the job completed in a timely fashion?
  • Did the position have specific objectives?
  • Did they perform in a supervisory role?

Volunteer experience can bring real value to your organization. Many of the skills acquired in volunteer work are transferable to paid work. Volunteer work and associated skills should get the same level of focus as those acquired through paid employment.

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