Get out of your comfort zone

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Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to new employable heights. Read the sound advice in this Vinspired blog post “5 ways to get the most out of volunteering“. It will help you choose the right sort of volunteering and help you get something out for YOU.

Want to join in and help with a local sport event?

Saturday 27th July 2013 is the anniversary of the London Olympic Games opening ceremony. If you were inspired by the Olympic Volunteers a year ago, do you want to dip your toe in the water of volunteering now? No big commitment. No long journey. If you do, Join In UK has the answer by offering you a way to find a sports even near you that needs some helpers. There are more 10,000 events to choose from all between July 27th to Sept 9th.

I was lucky enough to be at the Olympic Park for the launch and I recommend you watch this video now for some inspiration!

And you can listen to Dave Moorcroft (Director of Join In Local) talking to Danny Norman of parkrun.

If you want to be part of the Olympic Games volunteering legacy, then Join In is the place to start. And if you are a club or group looking for volunteers you can register here.

I’m a volunteer and these are my values:

I choose…

to live by choice, not by chance;
to make changes, not excuses;
to be motivated, not manipulated;
to be useful, not used;
to excel, not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self pity.
I choose to listen to my inner voice,
not the random opinion of others.

I choose to volunteer

How can you get a job without having an interview?

Here is the first of two real life examples to help answer that question.

Freshly repatriated from abroad, I found myself unable to return to my previous career. While abroad, like many of the “trailing spouses” I had engaged my brain in voluntary work and for several years I had been an editor. This role kept my computer skills up to date at a time when things were changing fast. On returning to the UK, I was welcomed with open arms at the local primary school when I offered to help in computer lessons. From there I became the official photographer and went on to build a website for the school – all as a volunteer. Little did I know at the time, but these skills were going to be a ticket to a new career direction.

First of all, though, I had to do my apprenticeship. I started teaching basic computer skills to career-break-returners – mostly mums who had been out of the workplace for a while. So ironically, there I was, also in my first job after a break, teaching other adults skills that I’d learnt as a volunteer. At this point, things were going really well and I embarked on the next level of teacher training. And while I was on the training course, one of the tutors spotted me. They noticed that I had previously taught English as a foreign language, while abroad, and was now teaching IT. This was a combination of skills the college had been seeking for some time. On the strength of this they offered me a great job – teaching IT to international students on university foundation courses. And so without even looking, I had landed myself my next post where I spent several satisfying years working with ambitious and interesting young people.

Can you get a job without having an interview? Well, I did. In fact, I’ve never had a job interview! Apart from my first job after university I have not applied for anything I have ever done. All my work has come my way, directly or indirectly, as a result of my volunteering. I’ve made career changes by getting to know people, by people finding out about me by word of mouth and by being in the right place at the right time.

For some other ideas, take a look at Volunteer your time, you may find a job

What useful skills have you learnt as a volunteer? Please leave a comment and tell me.

What motivates a volunteer?

All volunteers are unique and have their own set of reasons for volunteering. Here are 5 of the common reasons that make them step forward:

1 To support a team leader or friend that they respect

Don’t underestimate the strength of personal connections.

2 To meet useful people and increase their network

They are looking to see how your volunteering role could benefit them – so sell your ideas so they appeal to the “what’s in it for me” side of potential volunteers.

3 To socialise and take part in an interesting activity

Promote the social side of your opportunities and make sure your teams get along well – and that you have some well-planned activities lined up for them.

4 To support a cause that they believe in

If you are a charity, a children’s school, or local community are you inspiring your own followers and supporters?

5 To be nosy and get some inside info on an organisation

How does a publisher function? What’s it like back stage? Could you be promoting your organisation to appeal to this type of volunteer?

Organisations seeking volunteers are also very different. Do you relate to any of these motives. Do you think your organisation could use one or two of these motives to promote your opportunities?

Please leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

6 Tips for recruiting volunteers (and getting them to come back again!)

1. Recruit them for a finite and achievable activity

Would you sign a blank cheque for your time? No, I doubt it! Neither will the person you are looking for. It’s much better to offer a specific task with a manageable time-scale. Volunteers like a project that they can complete and then get on with their lives.

2. Tell them exactly what the role is

Keep it easy to understand. Use plain English, avoid technical jargon or you will annoy people. Paradoxically, if you make the job sound grand and high-powered this will only put people off.

3.  Find out a little bit about your volunteer

If you take the time to get to know them just a little then you can try and give them a role that is satisfying and appropriate to their experience and physical ability. They will be happier and they will do a better job for you.

4. Give them enough training to enable them to do the role effectively

Make sure you show your volunteers what they need to do, or team them up with someone with experience. And giving them a written brief/map/instructions/crib sheet/contact list really helps. It can be scary being a new volunteer – if you are bombarded with important information at the start its easy to forget a vital detail.

5. Acknowledge them on the day

It is surprisingly easy to be blind to your helpers during the actual event or project because it is so hectic for you. Make an effort to know who they are and say hello.

6. Say thank you afterwards

It’s all over! You collapse with exhaustion and feel waves of relief wash over you. It might sound old-fashioned but a phone call, e-mail or letter gives your volunteers a nice warm wanted feeling. Prompt and personalized but not patronizing and ending with “See you again next time”.
Q Have you volunteered in the last 6 months? What did you do and what inspired you to do it?