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Am I being taken advantage of?

(9 Posts)
thesea Sun 26-May-13 12:41:35

Hi all,

I'm uber-frustrated at the moment. I've been volunteering three days per week for six months at my favourite charity. I consider myself to be professional and hard-working, bubbly and flexible. However, when I applied for a job about three months ago I wasn't even short-listed. It took 10 weeks of nagging to get the feedback that I needed so that I could be sure to make better applications in the future. I felt really put out by this, especially because that application took me two days to complete.

Two weeks ago, I saw a print-out by the photocopier listing the details of a rather young and inexperienced woman being interviewed for a new receptionist job. When I asked my manager about this, she could only apologise that she and the other senior managers had 'simply forgotten' to mention the post to me. I made it very clear then that I felt betrayed by this and that I had proven myself a thousand times over to be worthy of a paid job there. Anyway, it turns out that the stipulation of that particular receptionist post was that the person had to be aged 18-21 as it was advertised as part of a governmental scheme to get the 'yoof' back into work. This is fair enough, but I'd said what I'd said by then. I sent my manager an apology then. I never did get an acknowledgement of the apology (even though, looking at the situation, what I said was understandable).

All of this happened on the day that my manager promised to start paying my expenses each week rather than each month, as I could no longer afford to be a month's worth of expenses out of pocket. However, eight days after this promise was made, I still didn't have any expenses in my back account and I was going into work with no money for food to eat for the day. When I asked about this, I was told that my manager had forgotten to approve the payment.

Besides the fact that I couldn't have gotten any of those two jobs (I wasn't qualified enough for the first one and I am too old for the second), is it fair to be treated like this? Should I cut my losses and leave? I really thought that volunteering so much of my time doing a job that they are too short-staffed to complete would put me in good stead for a future job. Now I'm starting to think that I'm just free labour.

Leverette Sun 26-May-13 21:25:04

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

hermioneweasley Sun 26-May-13 21:31:53

Looking at this objectively, it sounds a bit disorganised but not a conspiracy. You say you weren't qualified for th first job and fidn't meet the criteria for the second, therefore there's no reason why they would have mentioned them to you and no reason why they wouldn't consider you for a job where you do meet criteria and are qualified. Regarding the expenses, that is annoying but you need to be on top of them being paid if it makes the difference between eating or not. If finances are that tight can you get a part time job, or reduce or volunteering hours and increase paid work in the meantime?

Was there ever a promise or implication of a job for all this volunteering?

Ogg Mon 27-May-13 14:00:48

Volunteering does not put you at the head of the line for jobs - you may think it does and if your attitude reflects this then in all honesty - you are probably a nightmare to work with. Your sense of entitlement is not justified and just because you have decided that the requirements for x job is six months volunteer work, it does not make its so. You may feel you have 'proven' yourself capable but that's by your own criteria not the job spec and what the manager s are looking for.

Tigglette Mon 27-May-13 20:07:19

I work with volunteers who frequently apply for paid jobs when they come up. You need to approach the whole thing by acting like they know nothing about you, so complete the application form as fully as possible - detailing what you do there that is relevant to the job advertised in the same way any other applicant would. Most charities I've worked for have a strict scoring process for short listing applications and if you don't evidence your skills against the person spec you simply won't be short listed. The same applies at interview, act like you're explaining what you do to someone who doesn't know you or the organisation.

A good volunteer may well be appointed against an unknown candidate with the same experience/skills but volunteering isn't in and of itself a path into a paid job and your manager didn't deserve a hard time because you weren't appointed. The charity is under no obligation to inform you of vacant posts assuming they've advertised in the usual way, if you are honestly interested in working with them, be easy to manage, enthusiastic about what you do now, look for ways to support the charity and talk to staff who already work there about how they got into paid work.

ghosteditor Mon 27-May-13 20:13:35

I wouldn't say so, really.

We have interns in my industry and at my place of work. If we have a position opening up, we specifically approach our excellent interns and encourage them to apply, but even then they don't always get the job.

As others have said, it doesn't put you at the top of the queue. Good luck!

lougle Mon 27-May-13 20:26:10

I think you have been volunteering to earn yourself a paid job, when so much of volunteering is about an attitude of freely giving time.

The charity doesn't owe you a job. It needs volunteers but that is exactly what volunteers should be - people who are willing to give up their time for the good of the charity.

I am a Governor at a school. I help in a class once per week, I am going to help with gardening club, I'm going to help with the toy library and I make some resources once in a while. I don't do any of that for anything other than the good of the school. Should I apply for a job (unlikely), I would expect to be able to demonstrate my experience within volunteering, but I wouldn't expect that the fact that I had volunteered for that school to have any weight whatsoever.

flowery Mon 27-May-13 20:48:05

"I made it very clear then that I felt betrayed by this and that I had proven myself a thousand times over to be worthy of a paid job there"

Because they didn't specifically mention to you a job that you were not eligible for anyway? confused

If you are coming across to managers anything like your post indicates, making clear betrayal and giving off a sense of entitlement to a job just because you are volunteering, you may want to look at that before you apply for any more internal vacancies. I imagine its very off-putting.

Ogg Tue 28-May-13 11:02:49

And yes, you are a volunteer so you are free labour.

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