How to go From Volunteer to Employee
Volunteering has many advantages—it’s a great opportunity to give back to a cause you believe in, and also to gain experience, fill gaps in your skills or dip your toe in the water of a new career. So if you find yourself working for an organisation that truly resonates with your calling, you may find yourself wondering, ‘Will volunteering get me a job?’ Now that you know where you want to work, how can you turn this experience into a permanent paid job? Here are some tips on how to go from volunteer to employee.
1. Show that you’re committed
Organisations recognise consistency. They want people who are passionate about their cause and willing to go beyond what is asked of them when necessary. Failing to show up, poor communication and tardiness will not impress them!
Even as a volunteer, you should be courteous and give your team leader notice if you’re unable to stick to your agreed schedule. If you want to get a paid job from volunteering, treat it like it’s already your paid job! Be 15 minutes early, dress to impress, deliver quality work and get to know the people who make things happen.
2. Focus on building relationships
Volunteering is more than an opportunity to develop your skills. It’s also your chance to meet new people, interact with current employees and begin developing sound relationships. If you want your volunteering to lead to paid employment, then go beyond the people that you’re volunteering with and get to know the teams that you’d like to be a part of. If you’re interested in Campaigning or Marketing, for example, ask the department director if you can pick their brain. Don’t assume that people won’t make time to speak to you because you’re volunteering—if anything, you’ll receive a very warm welcome.
There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your interest in going from volunteer to employee to charity leaders when appropriate. And if a position becomes available, you could approach them for an informal chat about it. You’re in a great position if a relevant role comes up, as you already know the organisation. But if it doesn’t work out, then remember to remain professional and not complain. Just hang in there!
Relationships are the foundation of charities and not-for-profit organisations. If you can get to know the right people and demonstrate your worth, you’ll be thought of when a vacancy arises, so make the most of any face-to-face interaction! But most importantly, give them a good reason to remember you.
3. Understand the organisation, it’s cause and culture
It goes without saying that charities want people who understand their mission. But there will always be numerous organisations that dedicate their time to the same cause, so you have to demonstrate why you want to be a member of this particular team.
Do some research in your free time and get to grips with exactly what they are trying to achieve, talk to senior colleagues that understand the direction the organisation is heading in and stay in tune with the latest industry news through sources such as Charity Today and Charity Times. Knowledge is power—so keep topping yours up.
4. Demonstrate what you can deliver
Volunteering already demonstrates a level of commitment and personal interest. However, you also have a number of transferable skills that can be put to great use! This can show your ability to adapt to challenging situations and willingness to help the organisation flourish.
If you have strong writing skills, for example, you could offer to write a blog post about your experience as a volunteer. Good with numbers? Let them know that you’re happy to help with any tricky administrative duties too. Make a point of asking for more work to do. Use your skills to show how diverse you really are.
5. Be patient
If you’ve genuinely given it your all, don’t feel downhearted if you can’t go from volunteer to employee straight away. Your time has been well spent—you’ve left them with the best impression of who you are and what you can bring to the table, as well as gained some valuable experience.
If you leave your volunteer position, do your best to stay in touch with a key member of the team so that, when the right position becomes available, you’re the first person they call.
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been fully updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.