Category Archives: Transferable Skills

How to Volunteer for Charities

Charities run on peoples’ goodwill and time. They are funded by peoples’ generosity and receive no government funding. They are staffed by a few managers and other key staff who are paid but a major part of their workforce is made up of volunteers.

Volunteering for a charity is worthwhile and very rewarding, but it is important to find a role that really suits you and makes the most of the time you have to offer. You may have important skills or certain personality traits that would make you perfect for a particular role.

There is a huge range of volunteering positions within charities. You could do anything from working in a charity shop to helping out at fundraising events to walking dogs for a dog shelter or fostering animals until they are adopted.

Charities are all organisations and although they do not seek to make a profit they do have to be run like a business, with people helping with budgets, marketing, fundraising and IT. If you have office-based skills, these can easily be translated into volunteer work for charities.

Many people volunteer as a way to get back into the working world after a career break or long period of ill-health. Volunteering builds confidence and gets you back into the routine of work. It is important that you are clear about what times and hours you are able to offer and how long you will be available for so that the charity can find a suitable role for you.

Volunteering can also look very good on your C.V. if you are searching for employment, as it shows a willingness to work, compassion and trustworthiness. Some volunteers go on to get paid positions within the charities that they have worked for, by showing their dedication, commitment and a ‘can-do’ attitude, but others are more than happy to just give their time knowing that they are helping a worthwhile cause.

If you are more interested in volunteering in a ‘hands-on’ way, the best sort of charities to work for are animal charities, which need a lot of help to care for the animals they look after. If you have always wanted pets but cannot afford one or cannot commit the time needed to care for one, then volunteering for an animal charity such as the RSPCA will be a great way for you to get to spend time with the animals you love.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact charities of your choice and ask if they have any positions available. Talk to them about what you would like and what you can offer and see where it leads you!

This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).

Applying for roles I am over-qualified for – Questions answered.

This week we have a fantastic question from someone looking to work for their dream employer – by (almost) any means….

Hi Nicola, can you advise about applying for a junior/admin role at your dream employers … Just to get a foot in the door at the right company. I’d be interested to know how to pitch an application for a job I could be described as over qualified for.

Vicky – Northampton.

Hi Vicky – great question! I’m not sure you are going to like my response though, as applying for roles less senior to your current role can be seen as a step backwards it is often the case that employers will discard your application for a number of reasons such as:

  1. HR / hiring manager may be anxious that you may be looking for a way into the business with no real desire to stay in the role – wanting to progress is great for most employers but when you are already a step or two ahead of the role, this means you will be in the advertised role for a few months before making a move upwards. This leaves HR and the hiring manager with the initial problem of filling the Admin role; this is essentially deemed as a waste of time and money recruitment wise.
  2. Suspecting you are looking for an easy-ride role, as it is more junior you perceive it as a job you can sit back in and not really engage. Whereas a less qualified person would see the role as a challenge and really work hard / demonstrate keenness.
  3. Your potential line manager may feel intimidated by you, especially if you have held a more senior role to them and have more experience – their job feels threatened by your presence.

My advice would be to wait for a role which is more in-line with your current seniority ideally as rejections for roles tends to put a mark against your name as candidates make an impression that they are either desperate for a role and applying for anything or didn’t read / understand the job descriptions – applications would then be rejected or put to the bottom of the pile.

Have you tried making a direct approach to the business in question? LinkedIn can be a great way-in, by looking up heads of departments etc and making contact you could start to form some relationships with the right people and then once a relevant role comes to your attention you can make an application and your name will already be known in the right circles. When you do make contact – ask questions about what career backgrounds the business tends to attract, how often XXX types roles come up and if you can get a fluid correspondence flowing – ask if you can meet for coffee. It’s playing the long game but it is more likely to harvest positive feedback and a way-in at a level you deserve to be at too (whilst gaining some valuable insider information which you can use to strengthen your application).