Discover how you can use the skills you have learnt whilst volunteering to give you a competitive edge when applying for your first job and how understanding your experiences can boost your self-confidence.
As a student, you may well be quite weary by the term 'employability'. It is an overarching, intimidating and at times scary subject to confront as it hints at the rest of your life beyond University, a life that you may not have quite figured out yet! But that is ok. By volunteering you are exploring your passions, you are utilising and developing your skills and you are creating positive change. You may not realise it, but by volunteering, working or being part of a social group, you are developing yourself professionally.
By gaining all these new found skills, you are becoming more 'employable'. But what does this mean exactly?
Employability describes your skill set, your potential for a certain job, whether or not you match the skills or experience on a job specification.
However, just because you have the required skills for a job does not mean you will automatically get that job. Understandably, there are many more considerations an employer makes when they decide who to recruit, especially when they have a long shortlist of people who all match the job criteria.
The difference in getting hired for a job and just missing out can come down to your 'recruitability'. But what does this mean?
'Recruitability' describes your likelihood of gaining a job successfully. It describes your ability to best 'sell' your skills and experiences, your individual story, being able to express your confidence and personality and whether you fit into an organisations working culture. Recruitability is a skill in itself.
How to become more recruitable
By volunteering, you have gained a whole bank of skills and experiences, even if you haven't yet realised it!
Read our guide on 'How to log your skills effectively' to help you extract and record your skills from your experiences and then make sure you log them on your Volunteer Profile.
Once you have recorded your volunteering skills, your Volunteer Profile will automatically create your Skills Transcript.
Your Skills Transcript includes all the volunteering hours you have recorded, the volunteering awards and qualifications you have gained, all your volunteering roles, the skills you have learnt from those volunteering roles and examples of how you have utilised these skills.
By recording your skills, you are accummulating a bank of skills and personal reflections on your Skills Transcript, perfect for expressing in a job interview. However, this is not the only benefit. By reflecting on your skills, you will gain self-confidence in your own ability, you will be able to reflect on how you can utilise these skills to bring about success for your future goals, career and aspirations and how your skills can benefit other people and your community.
All in all, you will get a better understanding of who you are and you can use your Skills Transcript and your logged skill examples to better 'sell' yourself in your everyday life and in that first job interview after your time at University.
How to use my skill reflections in a job interview
When an employer is asking you a question, they are looking to get an insight into who you are. They are looking at ways that you stand out from the other job candidates, what makes you unique. By delving into the heart of the question and describing your experiences, you are not only 'selling' your skills, you are describing yourself as an experienced, confident and personable person.
Here is a basic outline of how you can use your skill reflections to answer a typical interview question:
First: Identify the skill(s) you have in relation to the question
1. Describe an experience where you have used these skills successfully
2. Explain how this experience / skills will be beneficial in the job and organisation you are applying for.
This last step is important. By being able to match your experiences and skills to the job specification or organisations strategy or values, you are describing why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Let's go through a quick interview question example:
The Organisation you are applying to: Anglia Ruskin Students' Union
The job you are applying for: Volunteer Coordinator
Interview Question: Can you give me an example of how you have worked as part of a team?
Identified Skills - Collaboration, Building Relationships, Problem Solving, Leadership (notice how we have split the 'team working' skill into 4 seperate skills)
1. "During my time volunteering at the National Trust, I had to work alongside other volunteers to chop down some small trees and clear some bushes. We created a plan together to have some volunteers chopping, whilst others were doing clearing, which made our work more efficient. Whilst working we chatted about our different experiences and bonded over tea and biscuits at the end."
2. "This experience will help me to build relationships with other Volunteer Cente staff and other staff in all departments of the Students' Union and the University and enable me to lead on projects and collaborate with others to increase the number of students volunteering in the community.
By logging your skills and developing a comprehensive Skills Transcript you will have a bank of experiences that you can use to describe the skills you have within a variety of different interview questions. And, by taking the time to reflect and record your skills, being able to 'sell' and be proud of your achievements, no matter how small, will help you express confidence and personality which will boost your chances of recruitment.
Finally, if you are unsuccessful in gaining a job, do not worry. Yes, it can feel disheartening at first, but use it as an opportunity to reflect on the interview, use it as an opportunity to reflect on further experiences you have had and use it as motivation to gain even more skills and experience.
Competition for jobs is high, but by increasing your 'recruitability' you are giving yourself your best opportunity to land your first job after your studies at ARU!
Increase your recruitability skills even further...
Join us for one of our FREE Skills Workshops to learn or develop your skills as a volunteer.
Anglia Ruskin University provides you with FREE access to a whole range of extra resources to help you boost your 'employabilty' and 'recruitability' skills including, online skills courses, CV Builders and Interview Simulaters. Check out our webpage below with links to all the available resources:
Take your Skills Development to the next level - University Skills Resources
Check out our other related news articles:
Why you should log hours and skills
How to log your skills effectively
Why you should download your Skills Transcript
What are 'Soft Skills'?
Start logging your hours and skills now