By Hazel Finney, Lead for Volunteering, Community Impact Bucks
Trying to land your ideal volunteer role is a bit like dating. You have a perfect opportunity in mind, a mental “check list”, and heaps of expectation. You meet a few organisations all full of enthusiasm, but sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, the reality is not all it’s cracked up to be, and your volunteering bubble is well and truly burst!
So, how do you keep motivated and scoop the prize with your pride intact? Well, like all things worth having, it may take a little time, perseverance and a side order of good luck. Sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time, but here are my 6 top tips to help you find your perfect match:
- Know yourself, and be clear about what you’re looking for
You might not be embarking on something as serious as a new job, but you’re preparing to make a change in your life for the better. It’s worth taking half an hour or so to sit down and think about the following: What do you hope to achieve from volunteering? There are a whole host of volunteering opportunities out there – what skills do you want to use or gain? How much time do you have to volunteer: are you looking for a one-off volunteering role or something more longer term? What type of charity/community group are you interested in? Are you happy being micro-managed, or do you want the freedom to take charge and do things your way? If you really relish responsibility, being a Trustee is something to seriously consider – it could help your personal development and leadership skills.
- Ensure your CV or list of skills are tip top
At the end of the day, we all need to sell ourselves to other people and demonstrate why we’re best suited to do something. Why are you the best person for a particular role? What are your strengths (and weaknesses)? If you’re interested in a role requiring specialist skills, for example, fundraising, marketing/digital communications, business planning or finance, why do you stand out from the crowd – and what qualifications do you have?
- Widen your search as much as possible
From Volunteering Bucks, the online volunteer portal for Buckinghamshire, you can access Do-it, the national volunteer recruitment website, which is a great place to start looking for a role – create a profile, select your preferences, and get searching! We’ve developed a handy guide to help you.
If you want to offer specialist skills (e.g. marketing, IT, finance), or are looking for a Trustee role, Community Impact Bucks is a proud partner of Reach Volunteering, the national organisation that connects charities and not-for-profits with skilled and experienced volunteers, and we’re now live streaming the latest Buckinghamshire-based roles on our volunteering portal: Skilled roles, Trustee roles.
You can also check out our portal for access to other recruitment sites that you might find useful.
Don’t forget to also look at local publications/noticeboards if you’re wanting a role close to where you live.
- Take heed of red flags!
If you’ve applied for a role and you don’t hear back after a week, it’s worth contacting them again – there may be a genuine reason for this. If there’s still nothing, steer well clear – they’re obviously not worthy of you; we all deserve a little respect. It’s time to move on and not waste any more time.
- Did you get ‘the feeling’?
If you are asked by an organisation to meet them, how did it go? Were they friendly and welcoming? Did they give you time to say what you wanted? Were you able to just be yourself and let your natural enthusiasm shine through? Did they explain the next steps with a timeframe? If you left feeling a bit flat, then the role probably isn’t for you – but if things just felt right then this is a really good sign – you could be on a winning streak!
- Coming on-board
Congratulations – you’ve been offered the role! If you accept it, this is a really crucial stage as you are undoubtedly fully committed, and being let down now could take the wind out of your sails. But – if you’re sent through any paperwork promptly, and given a thorough induction including any necessary training, then it sounds like you’ve hit the jackpot! Relax, and enjoy the journey.
Good luck! I hope you find what you’re looking for!