to think that volunteering is no longer the easy way to get experience on your cv?

(22 Posts)
wannaBe Tue 15-Apr-14 12:41:46

often the advice we see given to people when they're looking to get back into work is to do some volunteering to get some experience on your cv.

Previously when I have volunteered it has involved having an informal discussion with whoever is in the organisation and a chat about possibilities etc.

I have been looking to get back into work for a while now after being a sahm. It is understandably not easy because with no current experience on my cv (bar governing etc from a few years ago) it is almost impossible to even get an interview. So I decided that I would head down the route of volunteering, esp now that ds is heading for secondary.

Looking at various local charities it appears that the process to become a volunteer is just as involved as the process to apply for paid work. Informal chat followed by meeting followed by application form then interview then two references. shock shock

obviously charities do need to ensure that they get the best and most committed volunteers, but I can't help wondering whether the volunteer market has become just as competitive as the paid market, and whether volunteering isn't actually the route to a cv that people say it is. It certainly no longer is the case that you can just go and volunteer for your local hospital/hospice/<insert charity of choice>.

Joules68 Tue 15-Apr-14 12:44:15

Well I did it and got a job almost straightaway!

A few hoops to jump is no biggie is it?

Loopylouu Tue 15-Apr-14 12:45:56

I've had the same thing.

I've not worked for 11 years and have no references from old jobs as those companies no longer exsist.

I went back to college last year, then tried to get volunteer work in order to do my access course and came up against the same thing.

Now my college won't give references to a student who left more than six months ago, but volunteer places want work references anyway which I can't give them. I'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

littledrummergirl Tue 15-Apr-14 12:49:17

Ds1 is 13 and doing his duke of edinburgh bronze. Most of it is straight forward for him, but not the volunteering bit.
What happened to being glad of a spare set of hands for free?

wannaBe Tue 15-Apr-14 12:49:46

jules, when the hoops involve exactly the same thing as applying for paid work, and you don't have those references it makes no difference whether you are applying for paid or unpaid.

If you can't get a paid position through application stage (and that's not necessarily personal rather than to do with numbers) why would voluntary with the same process be any different?

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 12:54:55

well i volunteer for a well known charity that shall remain nameless and although the application form did ask for two referees, the manageress certainly never chased them up.

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 12:55:48

...and the 'interview' was a five minute chat....

RobotLover68 Tue 15-Apr-14 12:59:07

Scouting would love your help

I am a Cub Scout Leader and I have young leaders all the time who are doing their DofE - I asked my Group Scout Leader (my line manager) recently for a reference as unfortunately the boss from hell woman I worked for and I parted company on bad terms when she decided to bounce my wages cheques.

whattoWHO Tue 15-Apr-14 13:01:50

Yes, becoming a volunteer is more difficult than in the past.

But, from an insider's point of view, charities are inundated with prospective volunteers who have been sent to us from the job centre.

How do we select those that are really motivated and committed from those who are just trying to get a tick from us to show to the job centre?

It costs money to induct a volunteer and DBS (formerly CRB).

But I'd welcome with open arms someone who, say, volunteered to put on a fundraising coffee morning. I'd mentor them, help with resources, project planning etc and then give them a glowing thank you letter.

wannaBe Tue 15-Apr-14 13:11:34

whatto I do think that is part of the issue, that the current job market has increased the numbers of people who are "available" as it were, in much the same way as they are for paid positions and employers have increased their criteria to reduce the number of applicants e.g. by stipulating the necessity for a degree for admin positions, for instance...

And while that does weed out the time wasters it obviously also leaves people who are genuine but don't have current experience either totally disheartened, because it is disheartening enough not to be able to get a paid job, so when you see that the process for unpaid is the same it doesn't do much for one's morale iyswim.

Delphiniumsblue Tue 15-Apr-14 13:17:13

I don't see it as a problem. The referees don't have to be work referees.
I volunteer in three places and they all needed forms, referees, interviews and training. I don't expect they would be very interesting if they didn't.

NurseyWursey Tue 15-Apr-14 13:18:17

It's more difficult and I'm glad because there have been massive safe guarding issues in the past. Volunteers are still in a position of responsibility and it needs to be a proper process.

OP have you tried this website www.do-it.org.uk/ I got LOADS of voluntary work from this

itsnothingoriginal Tue 15-Apr-14 13:23:29

Agree about the safeguarding issues. Unfortunately it's a time-consuming but necessary part of the process. As others have said, the references don't necessarily have to be recent and/or employers.

I work with graduates and still strongly recommend that voluntary work is a great way to build up the CV. The do-it link above is a good one.

dunsborough Tue 15-Apr-14 13:28:04

Ya so nbu.

DS aged 16 has been trying to volunteer for about six months. The amount of unreturned phone calls... sad

PoundingTheStreets Tue 15-Apr-14 13:29:20

A lot of volunteering roles require a surprising amount of training, which costs money. That's one of the main reasons it is harder to become a volunteer, because charities in particular get stung by training someone up only for them to leave a few months later. Plus there are safeguarding issues to be considered, which presumably isn't a problem in this case so you don't need to worry about that element at least.

One of the main ways you can beat the system in this respect is to write a good, tailored personal statement on your CV - and repeat in an interview - where you stress your commitment and how you can be relied on to be long term, etc. Also, unless you've lived in a bubble for a few years, you are bound to know of people who will write you a good character reference. Volunteering references don't have to be employment ones.

Good luck. smile

Xihha Tue 15-Apr-14 13:34:31

Guiding would love some volunteers and I get my references from my Unit leader or my district commissioner when applying for paid jobs. They did ask for references when doing their checks but were happy for these to just be two people I know rather than work related.

wannaBe Tue 15-Apr-14 13:40:02

thank you nursey will certainly have a look there.

pounding many of the organisations I have looked at actively promote volunteering as a way to enhance your cv while looking for paid work, so while I do agree that organisations need to recruit the best volunteers they can, and that this obviously costs, I do also think that the message many are giving does not promote the need for people who are in it for the long-term, iyswim, which again sends a mixed message.

I of course will be applying, in the same way as I am applying for paid work atm, I just think that when we advise people to "do some volunteering," we need to be a bit more realistic that this is no longer the easy process it once was, iyswim.

PoundingTheStreets Tue 15-Apr-14 13:42:56

I agree it's not easy. I used volunteering as a route into a career change and it took 7 months from the time I applied to the time I started the volunteer role, and a further 2.5 years for it to lead to a paid position!

Good luck with it all though. It's one of the best things I've done with my life and was totally worth the effort.

WooWooOwl Tue 15-Apr-14 13:49:09

You might be right, but volunteering doesn't exist to make people's CVs look good, so I can't see the problem.

One of the charities I volunteer for spends a lot of its resources on interviewing and training the right people for job, and their are hoops to jump though, but it has to be that way otherwise the charities beneficiaries wouldn't get the service they deserve. They are the priority, well over an above people who are looking to fill a gap on their CV.

Making sure there are hoops to jump through ensures that people are committed and are sure of what they are getting into, and very much promotes the need for people to be in it for the long term in my opinion.

Hulababy Tue 15-Apr-14 13:51:23

In order to get back into school based work I volunteered, but it wasn't charity based. It was volunteer work in my DD's school. That was fairly easy to organise - and it worked for me.

I then applied for a job after a few months and got the first job I went for.

I think charity volunteer work is different, and it really should be done for the cause, rather than an individual person's needs.

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 15-Apr-14 14:03:08

As an ex- Volunteer Coordinator I can honestly say that charities, community groups etc need committed volunteers more than ever as money for paid staff is harder to find.

The problem is that many "volunteers" seem to think that they can rock up when they feel like it, stand round doing nothing, and still expect to use the "experience" on a CV.

Committed volunteers who turn up regularly, even if just for a couple of hours a week or month, are highly valued and gain not just experience but also good contacts that can help to find paid work.

What Harriet said - when we get new applicants for volunteering jobs I always ask if this is a route to paid employment. It takes months and £££ to set up our volunteers - we can't afford to spend that time and effort on someone unless we're going to get something back from them.

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