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How Employers View Volunteering

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 1 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Volunteer Voluntary Work Workplace

The question of how employers view volunteering is surely one which is on the lips of anyone who has ever volunteered or been to a job interview. The fact is, that volunteering is always going to give a person skills which will be beneficial to their life in the working world. Volunteering allows people to get experience in ways they might not have been able to if an employer had had to pay for it – and that experience could be enough to persuade an employer that the volunteer is the right person for the job.

Work Experience

Work experience is a form of volunteering – especially if done to the best of the ability of both worker and employer. But far too many schools send children out on work experience they do not want to do, to places they are not interested in. And many workplaces accept the children because it’s something they feel they should do – with scant regard for whether they can actually use the children. In this regard, the work experience is of no use to anyone. But work experience where the young person is volunteering to learn some skills that they can only use in a work place, and is actually given work to do, that is a very valuable endeavour which employers will view positively when you speak about it in interviews.

Internships

Internships are, in many ways, like a fixed contract of work experience. Their value has been downgraded somewhat by companies which take advantage of young people eager to work and take them on, unpaid, for six months, to do a job which they should be getting paid for. Nonetheless, internships can still be very valuable and held in very high esteem by employers. They show a willingness to knuckle down and work to learn the ropes of a trade. Often, they can also be a forum for some very innovative thinking.

Volunteering Outside the Workplace

But do not make the mistake of thinking that all volunteering which can stand you in good stead when looking for a job is workplace-based. This is far from the truth. By demonstrating that you have volunteered away from the workplace, you show a lot of good characteristics to employers – not least, a desire to help others. And volunteering can be spoken about in interviews – not only will you have used new skills when volunteering, but it shows the would-be employer that you a well-rounded person with plenty of interests away from work.

The rise in corporate social responsibility schemes has made it easy for employees of big firms to show they are willing to help others. But there is also an element of only doing something because you are being asked to. Far better to illustrate your credentials through a voluntary scheme – be it in the workplace or not – which shows initiative and some get up and go which having voluntary work laid on does not. Regardless of anything else to do with volunteering - a person with voluntary work on their CV shows they have something which sets them a little bit apart from those who do not.

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