Are skilled applicants slipping through your net?

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A new report suggests skilled applicants may be slipping through the recruitment net as employers continue to overlook one specific area of experience – volunteering.

Researchers at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that less than a third (31 per cent) of employers ask interviewees about any volunteering experience and fewer than one in five (16 per cent) mention it on application forms.

“By failing to uncover this experience during the recruitment stage employers could be missing out on enthusiastic individuals who have precisely the types of employability skills organisations tell us they need and struggle to find,” said CIPD’s CEO, Peter Cheese.

The same report revealed that, despite the apparent disinterest, 67 per cent of employers said an entry-level applicant with volunteer experience would be deemed “more employable.”

The top three skills cited by respondents were teamwork (82 per cent), communication (80 per cent) and understanding the local community (45 per cent).

Web consultant Julian Lorentz says volunteer experience is one of the most important things he addresses in any interview: “In every situation – from financial to creative positions – I look at a candidate’s volunteer history. It’s a good indication of their passion, leadership and problem solving abilities.”

And that’s not all volunteer experience brings to the table. The report – Unlock new talent: How can you integrate social action in recruitment? – also suggests that asking applicants about social action experience could improve a company’s corporate image.

“Beyond attracting talent, showing support for social action at the recruitment stage also helps to lift the reputation of the organisation more widely, as it fits in with a broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda,” the report states.

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