Temping and volunteering

Gaining skills for employment

I will talk about two things that people often do to gain skills for employment: temping and volunteering. One may also volunteer to give back to the community and do something worthwhile, which I have done and found rewarding.

A person may also volunteer because they have a condition that makes holding down a permanent job tricky, and they wish to do something fulfilling with their time and have a space to socialize; however, for this piece, I am focusing on the volunteering that I choose to do in an attempt to progress career-wise.

Volunteering can be valuable; my mother volunteered for a few months full time because she wanted to change her career. She volunteered for about two months full time; this experience allowed her to transition into school nursing.

I believe that volunteering full time is helpful for some people to enable them to enter roles at the start of their careers or allow them to make a career transition. However, I think that volunteering full time is problematic; when I’ve volunteered, I always felt that my contribution wasn’t as important as that of paid the staff and that I wasn’t offered the guidance that I needed to progress.

I think that, in general, you are seen as having less value if you work for free. I also see volunteering as a way that certain establishments use people’s desire to get a foothold in the employment market to exploit people for free labour. I also agree with many others who have argued that it devalues the role of those in the profession (why would someone pay someone if they can get an OK job done for free-this is especially true in poorly funded sectors and/or where the competition is high).

People also volunteer because they have been told that employers value volunteering on a CV; I think it can improve a sparse CV, and it can show that an individual is community-minded. People can come across more positively if they volunteer; however, it could potentially make employers think of you negatively. I asked a person who worked with recruiters and in helping people to gain employment, and he said, ‘if you’ve volunteered a lot, employers will ask where this individual’s money has been coming from.’ This implies that employers will potentially judge an individual for not standing on their own two feet. I suppose that means that if one has deemed to have volunteered too much, the CV could be changed by playing down the volunteering and promoting paid work. All these points have personally put me off volunteering full-time ever again. I feel that it would make a lot more sense for there to be more