Volunteering experience improves your employability, according to new research

New research published by CIPD, in partnership with the #iwill campaign, has found that 67% of bosses believe that new starters who have experience of volunteering, fundraising or charity work, have more job-friendly skills to offer the workplace than those without.

“67% (of employers) report that entry-level candidates who have voluntary experience demonstrate more employability skills.”

fb-volunteerSkills developed through social action and volunteering experience are invaluable to the workplace. According to employers surveyed, the top three skills cited were teamwork (82%), communication (80%) and understanding the local community (45%). Despite valuing these skills, and appreciating that volunteering develops these skills in candidates, only 16% of employers reported that they asked about this kind of experience in the application process. This necessarily leads to employers failing to pick up on these vital skills whilst seeking out candidates for their job roles.

The chief executive of CIPD, Peter Cheese, notes that “a key challenge for recruiters is that candidates often fail to highlight their social-action experience unless given the opportunity to do so – as many still regard traditional work experience as being more important to employers.” As such, he advises that volunteering experience be brought more prominently into organisations’ resourcing strategies.

Cheese acknowledged the difficulties faced by many young people in securing relevant work experience, and emphasised the important role that social action has in skills development of young individuals. He warned that “by failing to uncover this experience during the recruitment stage, employers could be missing out on enthusiastic individuals who have precisely the types of employability skills organisations tell us they need and struggle to find.”

In reference to the recent announcement by PwC that they will end A-level criteria for graduate jobs, Richard Irwin, head of student recruitment at PwC, added: “We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society.”

Both employers and institutes, like CIPD, are recommending that academic credentials are too blunt an instrument by which to measure candidates for jobs. The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) is designed to encourage a more sophisticated approach to recording student achievement. As such, it not only records individual module results, but also records non-academic achievements like volunteering and fundraising experience. For example, students from Keele University could have the KeeleSU Volunteer Programme listed on their HEAR.

Students and graduates from Gradintel’s partner institutions can access their HEAR blog-charitythrough their Gradintel account, and the data from the report auto-populates their Gradintel profile. Employers are matched to potential employees through Gradintel, and they can use this platform to find out about any volunteering experience that they so value in candidates.  Students and graduates that are not part of a partner institution can register with Gradintel and fill out their profiles, and likewise be tagged by employers for opportunities. Please visit www.gradintel.com to register for your free account.

For those employers following CIPD’s recommendations, software like Gradintel’s can provide an invaluable platform for getting a full and vibrant picture of a candidate’s potential, including any social action experience they might have.


Read the full CIPD report here – Unlock new talent: How can you integrate social action in recruitment? http://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/talent-social-action-recruitment.pdf

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