New research from Indeed and Team London, the Mayor of London’s volunteering initiative, reveals the big mismatch between jobseeker and employer attitudes to volunteering. With two thirds of business leaders hailing the importance of volunteering experience in a prospective employee, the research reveals that of the 54% individuals in the UK who have volunteered, just under a third (31%) have included this experience on their CV.
Amongst those who have chosen not to include this experience on a CV, one in five say they don’t think the volunteering experience gained is relevant, a further 20% hadn’t considered it as something that might help in their job search and 18% say they don’t understand how skills learned through volunteering can be used in paid work.
By contrast, the top four skills that employers value from volunteering experience, include: teamwork (73%), confidence (73%), communication skills (71%) and self-motivation (68%).
A disconnect between theory and practice
Despite the positive response from decision-makers, the report reveals that just 45% of employers say that their business recognises volunteering experience in recruitment practices – though this rises significantly to 60% amongst larger businesses with over 250 employees, and most notably within the medical and health services industry (65%).
It is clear that volunteering experience comes into sharper focus after the initial application phase, once a candidate is selected for interview. Although only 15% of businesses report that they actively search for volunteering experience on a CV, 41% say that they often ask a specific question about this when interviewing candidates. Just over half (51%) say they would consider volunteering experience as a deciding factor when choosing between two very similar candidates.
Employee volunteering – plugging the value gap
This enthusiasm for volunteering extends beyond the application stage with almost half (48%) of UK employers believing that it is important to offer their staff volunteering opportunities. However, only 21% of employers report that they use this as a means for staff development. This link is not clear for jobseekers either – just 12% agree that volunteering is relevant for workers looking to expand their skills or gain new experience.
Veronica Wadley, the Mayor of London’s Senior Advisor for Volunteering, said:
“Through Team London’s innovative programmes, more and more Londoners are now taking social action in their local area and an increasing numbers of businesses also understand the importance of volunteering as a route in to work. This ethos amongst the capital’s businesses is one of the key reasons that London has been named European Volunteering Capital. I urge job seekers to harness the value employers place in volunteering by using it to build their skills and to give themselves an edge over other prospective job candidates.”
Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, said:
“As the job market evolves, so too do routes into employment. As competition for top talent grows at pace, we see more open and agile attitudes from talent acquisition heads around recruiting. Increasingly this means a move away from recruiting for specific ‘jobs’, but rather seeking individuals with relevant passion and enthusiasm that align with company culture. Once within the business, it’s crucial to set about developing this talent.” He adds: “Volunteering can play a big part in both feeding the talent pipeline and developing skills throughout an individual’s career.”
The report indicates that there is more work to be done to build bridges between the corporate and philanthropic world to ensure that volunteering is strategic and beneficial to both parties. Kate Van der Plank, Director of Step up to Serve, adds:
“What is missing at the moment is making sure that volunteers are doing ‘skills based volunteering’ – i.e. using their professional skills that are a lot more valuable to a charity than their ability to paint a wall… There’s lots of potential, but a clear and understandable risk that if either side has a bad experience, no one will do it again.”