Volunteering Improves Employability
By Anab Gurhan
Editor’s Note: Here’s the first in a three-part series about how volunteering makes a difference at Daily Work. In this first post, we talk about the different perception of “volunteer” work in other countries and how it can be used to improve employability here.
Imagine, you spend a third of your valued time every day to voluntarily help people in need. You help by doing things such as delivering food and water, gathering wood to build huts to displaced families due to a natural disaster in your community, or driving a tiny gravel road that connects one village to another to help vulnerable people who can’t walk and make it to the next village.
However, no one in your community recognizes your hard work, effort, or time as something important or special. In Africa and many places around the world, these activities go unnoticed every day for many different reasons. First, many people who volunteer to help others do it as part of a belief in a higher power and don't expect anything in return. Second, in many places in the world there are no systems in place that recognize or value “volunteer” work. In fact, many languages do not even have words that describe “volunteerism” as we understand it here.
Many of our job seekers at Daily Work have a lot of “volunteer” experience; unfortunately, they are unaware that the “work” they did to help others is valued as volunteerism. Many of our Daily Work job seekers don't know that in the United States and other western countries, volunteer work is valued, well respected, honored, and recognized in many different ways.
As a case manager for Daily Work, many job seekers don’t how to talk about the activities they have done to help others. When I ask them to tell me more about what work or related activities they have done in the past, they do not think to tell me about volunteer work they have done to help others. Job seekers are excluding important information about their life and work-related experiences. To address this, I ask them to share in detail with me any activities they have done while they were in their home countries. Together, we can paint a more complete picture of all the skills and abilities they have to offer to employers.
Most of Daily Work’s case managers and staff who provide advice and information to job seekers are themselves a mix of volunteers and interns. Daily Work’s volunteers make a huge difference in our community. Their contribution to Daily Work is well valued, respected and honored. As interns and volunteers, we know our experience at Daily Work gives us many transferrable workplace skills and we add that experience to our resumes. As role models to our job seekers, we help them identify all the skills they bring to the workforce, even those skills not learned in paid employment.
Adding volunteer skills and activities to a job seeker’s resume can make a real difference in how qualified they look to hiring managers. Our experienced, educated, caring, and committed crew helps job seekers discover their strengths and talents. We teach them how to showcase their attributes to employers on their resume and in a job interview. We help job seekers prepare for today’s workplace and a better future with many resources and ideas. This important work couldn’t be done without your partnership and support. Thank you.