People all around the world have challenges with unemployment. Situations in developing or undeveloped countries as regards unemployment are in some ways different from those in developed countries. In underdeveloped or developing countries, the issue of high illiteracy, weak economy, bad governance and other vices extremely hinder the employment of people especially the youth. The bottom line is that unemployment exists in every society. Individuals search for means to secure employment and governments holistically search for other means to reduce their countries unemployment rate. Some of the efforts to reduce unemployment is manifested in the promotion of volunteerism.For this paper, I like to look at the relationship between volunteering and employment. Does volunteering automatically secure employment for volunteers? Are there benefits in volunteering? It will also give tips on volunteerism.
There are various definitions for volunteering and employment. Volunteering is defined in the UK as ‘… an activity that involves spending unpaid time doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than (or in addition to) close relatives’ (Ellis Paine, A., McKay S. and Moroet D. 2013). Wikipedia defines volunteering as an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return this Activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved for the individual.With these definitions, the grasp of key words or phrases like “unpaid time”, “benefits to environment or individuals or groups” , “altruistic activity” and “no financial gain” are all important in knowing the detail meaning of volunteering. I like to view volunteering as positively contributing to society through the use of one’s knowledge without the intent of receiving pay. This involves working at institutions or other places where society or environment benefits from the work of the volunteer. In a simpler way, I look at employment as acquiring pay for work done but not necessarily contributing to the society or environment.
There are some thoughts as to the relationship between volunteerism and employment. Some media have supported the notion that volunteering increases the prospects of securing job (ABC video, 2009; CBS News, 2011; US News, 2012; or Smart Money, 2011). Governments including the United States Federal Government via its Department of Labor also furthers similar idea. The Corporation for National and Community Service in its publication (Spera, C.; Ghertner, R., Nerino, A., DiTommaso, A. 2013), mentioned this statement from the former Secretary of Labor of the United States Government (“volunteerism can be a way to help unemployed workers expand their network of contacts, improve their résumés, and make a positive impression in a competitive job market.” Hilda S. Solis). The Nigerian and Liberian Governments through their National Youth Service and President Young Professional Programs respectively, are volunteer programs that back such idea. Additionally, the UK government through the Work Together, which is a pilot voluntary work scheme for unemployed youth in London and the Olympics Employment and Skill Strategy encourage or require the unemployed to do voluntary job. I also nurtured the same idea. Many young people, labor and human resource professionals have also pushed the idea that volunteering guarantees a job. I was shocked with the result I found after a research was done on the “relationship between the volunteerism and Employment.
The research found that there is no empirical or statistical data or research that has proven that volunteerism increases the prospects of securing job contrary to the thoughts of many.The relationship between employment and volunteering cannot be determined (Jorgensen H., 2013) . In her research paper ( Kamerāde D. 2013), she apprised that the majority of the unemployed voluntary volunteering does not significantly raise the chances of getting a job. Her research also stressed that volunteering has a weak or negative effect on the prospects of the majority of unemployed people in finding a new job. This research was prepared to question the extent to which empirical evidence supports this assumption that volunteering during unemployment is a stepping stone to paid work. There are many other researches that have proven against the global assumptions that volunteering is a conduit or stepping stone to getting job.
This article is not meant to discourage you from volunteering. In as much that there is no statistical finding that points to the high chances of securing paid job through volunteering, there are some isolated situations where volunteering at institutions brought about some entry jobs for the unemployed. More besides, there are other benefits volunteering accrues for volunteers.
Benefits for the Volunteer
Volunteering benefits the volunteer. The volunteer acquires new employability skills , build networks and CVs, and try new vocations ( Ellis Paine, A., et al. 2013; Kamerāde D. 2013; and Jorgensen H., 2013).
Work environment varies from institution to institution. Volunteering usually gives the volunteer diverse ideas in getting work done. When this is done continuously, the volunteer becomes adapted to the modus operandi of that task and work environment thus learning new skills. These new skills prepare the volunteer for the world of employment. If given a paid job, the acquired skills from volunteering can be used to get the paid job done.
Obviously, when you enter a new place, you get to meet other people you have not met before. This is the same with volunteering. When you volunteer at a new place, you get to meet people for the first time. Your new acquaintances can range from professionals within your career circle or other careers, new career chasers and those that have not yet began their career.Usually, these are people that supervise you, you supervise, you volunteer with, or volunteer for ( bosses) . They become your workmates. Your interactions via work or other professional means allows you to get to know them better and they also get to know you more. This builds your contacts not only with professionals but other individuals in the middle or down the career ladder. You never know. These are contacts that become important in securing a pay job or recommending you for a job. There are several instances of people using contacts from their volunteering job to secure employment not only at their volunteering institution but also at other institutions. It is always positive to keep good relationship with all contacts where you volunteer. It often pays off.
Building of CVs or Resumes
In recruitment, many employers will prefer an employee that has had prior experience in the field or area for which that employee is to be employed. The employer might not necessary require experience from a previous paid job. Volunteering helps to achieve this. This is important for people that have no prior job experience. Most inexperience people indicate volunteer jobs on their CVs or resumes. This indicates to would-be employers that you have had prior job experience. If the job requires prior experience, the experience from the volunteered job could aid in securing the paid job. I usually recommend that whether experienced or inexperienced, it is important to mentioned on your CV or resume, those important volunteer jobs you have done. It does not only show that you have some experience but indicates that you care for society and acquiring compensation from job is not a very high priority. The volunteer might have other internal reasons but many employers reason from that perspective. Caring about the society will depend on the institution you volunteer for. Usually, volunteering for charitable institutions shows that you care about society or environment. Many institutions or governments relate volunteerism to charitable or not- for- profit institutions. Most sponsored training applications and scholarships highly welcome applicants that volunteers for the society or environment. So, sharing with people and institutions verbally and via your CV or profile about your volunteer jobs and experiences, are very paramount in climbing the career ladder.
New Vocation or Occupation
Volunteering helps volunteers to choose their career pathway. When you volunteer, you try different types of task, meet with people and also grow work confidence. These compounded experiences help you to sometimes discover your inner passion from the various task performed, and also talking to peers and professionals in the same field. A youth camp volunteer wrote “I did not know I could speak in public and lead people until now. Thank you for allowing me to volunteer”. This volunteer was unaware that he was good at leading people until he volunteered as a camp worker. He has since gone to pursue a career in Human Resource Management to strengthen his abilities in motivating and leading people.
From a research standpoint, there is no statistical finding that points to the increase chances of acquiring employment through volunteering. Government, media, individuals that sponsor such idea that volunteering secures the volunteer a paid job are actually based on assumptions and are meant to encourage people to volunteer. Volunteering is a great tool to contributing to society. From the above reading, you have understood that there are benefits that volunteers accrued from volunteering. The building of networks, resumes and finding new occupations are some benefits volunteers acquire from volunteering. These benefits competitively prepare volunteers for employment. I do support the act of volunteering. People that are beginning to build their career and are unemployed should consider volunteering. Volunteer is an easy means of building your career until employment comes.