Voluntary Work Experience Going Unnoticed

By July 7, 2015HR Research
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Employers are failing to ask candidates about voluntary work experience, meaning that they might be missing out on skilled potential employees.

This week the CIPD published a study that found that less than a fifth of employers asked about voluntary experience at the application stage, whilst only a third of recruiters asked about it at interview. And this is despite 67% of employers reporting that employees who volunteered for ‘social action’ work tended to demonstrate a greater range of applicable skills in the workplace.

The fact that candidates can be reluctant to highlight their volunteering experience only compounds the problem, as they believe that employers assign greater importance to actual paid work experience.

So whilst the skills that voluntary work experience can teach candidates could make them ideal employees, recruiters are not doing enough to identify them. Essentially, for the sake of asking a question, potentially ideal employees remain undiscovered.

Greg Guilford, Managing Director of HR Solutions, said “what this research highlights is that, essentially, employers are not asking the right questions to secure the talent that they need.”

“Recruiters need to do more to encourage candidates to communicate their full range of experience. Conversely, candidates with voluntary experience need to start seeing that experience, and the skills that they have learned, as important to employers.”

“The real takeaway here is that employers need to be sharper about identifying how a candidate could serve their business and consider their entire skill set. It’s a quick win to finding the most appropriate person for the role.”

So how should you ask about a candidate’s voluntary experience during the recruitment process? Whilst there are topics that are off-limits during the interview, enquiring as to whether or not your candidates undertake any voluntary work during their own time is completely above board. As long as you do not veer into the candidate’s personal life and keep the conversation on a professional level you will be fine.

Voluntary work experience gives individuals the opportunity to develop transferable skills such as improved communication and teamwork. Overlooking this may mean missing out on the talent your workplace needs – and all for the sake of asking a question.

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