Archive for July, 2013

New Study Says Volunteers are More Likely to Land a Job

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkEven though the economy is on the mend, it’s still a tough job market out there. But a recent report contains news that might make your volunteers feel better about their prospects—and help you recruit more talented volunteers, too.

The report was published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and it provides evidence of an association between volunteering and employment. In fact, it states that unemployed individuals who volunteer over the next year have a 27% higher chance of being employed at the end of the year than non-volunteers.

Interestingly, factors such as age, gender, geographical location, ethnicity and job market conditions did not change the odds.

The CNCS used over 10 years of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and analyzed more than 70,000 people aged 16 and over. Their volunteering and employment records were studied over two years. The 27% increase in employment odds was stable over each year of the study, despite varying employment rates.

The research suggests that volunteering may provide a job-hunting advantage, regardless of the hiring conditions at the time.

Individuals without a high school diploma and those who live in rural areas saw even higher increases in the odds of landing jobs (51% and 55%, respectively). This suggests that those with limited skills or networking opportunities gain even more advantage when they volunteer.

Volunteering has long been seen as a way to enhance social connections, professional contacts, skills and experience. It can also be a route into a paying position with the nonprofit organization. Even the Department of Labor issued guidelines last year that volunteering can help unemployed people enhance their resumes and develop new skills. The agency encouraged state workforce offices to promote volunteering by those receiving unemployment benefits.

If you’re looking for quality volunteers, encourage those who are unemployed to apply with your organization. You may both benefit!

Can you trust every person who volunteers for your agency? Conduct background checks on all volunteers. Rely on for your volunteer screening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Recognize Gender Differences in How Volunteers Work

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

screening volunteers, volunteer background check

As much as we’d like to think there are no differences between the genders in the workplace—or in volunteer positions—the truth is that there are. Understanding the fundamental differences can help any organization run more smoothly, and with less tension and stress.

Some of the ways men and women view the workplace differently follow. Of course, these aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but general observations.

Men and women communicate differently: This will come as a surprise to practically no one. Men are more competitive and are more likely to interrupt one another. Women are more likely to weigh in after others have already expressed their opinions. Women also don’t raise their hands to speak as much, so they’ll often need to be asked their opinions. Both styles are valuable, with women viewing problems more broadly, and men being more narrow in their focus.

Women work more toward consensus: Women are more apt to exchange information, ask for consensus, and bounce ideas off of a larger group in order to create a broader agreement. Women prefer to gather feedback and are more likely to show concern that others are included in decision making. This interest in others can gain them more trust and create a more productive work environment. Men, on the other hand, want a quick decision, and more often come to them on their own.

Work-life balance: This is where misunderstanding can cause issues. Women are more accepting of the diverse needs of volunteers and workers, while men are more comfortable with doing things the way they’ve always been done. Traditional management styles and organizational cultures tend to favor the way men prefer to work. Women in positions of leadership are more likely to notice people’s needs.

It’s difficult for women and minorities to advance in places where an “old boys’ club” exists, but happily, that’s more the norm in corporate America than in non-profit America.

How to do Reference Checks on Volunteers

Friday, July 12th, 2013

volunteer screeningThere is no question that a consistent practice of screening volunteers can make your organization, clients and the public safer. Gathering and checking references from volunteer applicants should be part of the screening process.

References can confirm or deny whether the applicant will be a good fit for your organization. It’s much better to find out before they start their volunteer duties!

Here are several tips for doing volunteer reference checks:

  • Ask applicants for references who are familiar with their work—employers, previous volunteer managers, etc.
  • Remember that applicants often think their references won’t be contacted. So don’t assume that they will only provide positive references.
  • Call or email each and every reference.
  • Ask each reference the same set of questions. Don’t neglect to ask any of your questions. You may hear a glowing report on the applicant, until you ask certain questions that trigger concern. Plus, you’ll get a much better picture of the applicant by asking the same things of each reference.
  • Don’t ask leading questions, or “yes” or “no” questions. For example, “Don’t you think Mary would be a great driver for our organization?” Give references the time and space to answer in their own words.
  • Clearly describe the position for which the person is applying and ask whether he or she can successfully handle the tasks.
  • In terms of vulnerability, clearly describe the people the applicant will be serving and ask whether the reference would be comfortable with it.

Consistency and clear communications are very important when doing volunteer reference checks. Make them a standard part of your volunteer screening process, and you’ll have higher quality volunteers who better fit with your organization!