5 steps to apply successfully for a volunteer position

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Sometimes, volunteering is not a matter of just showing up and then you’re in. You may have to go through a hiring process which involves screening before you can be accepted as a volunteer. Organizations do this because they have a responsibility to uphold certain standards of service. They also need to protect the people they serve. It also ensures that the work is the right fit for both the organization and you, the volunteer.

To apply, you have to plan, prepare and sell yourself in order to get the job. If you’re thinking of volunteering but don’t know how to start, read on:

  1. Choose where to apply

    Volunteer to make the best of your time and talents. There thousands of volunteer opportunities around you! Start by:
    Know what you’re good at – Focus on what you can offer to help an organization or a cause. Assess your skills, experience, temperament and resources. Use Discover tools on the Volunteer Canada site to help you in this process. For example, the skills self-assessment checklist can help you match skills to specific volunteer activities.

    Know what you’re passionate about – Do you want to see a cleaner world? Have a soft spot for animals? Or do you want to help other immigrants? Connect your skills and knowledge with the causes that you believe in and look for ways you can get involved. For example, if you are skilled at numbers and know basic accounting, you might want to get involved in the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).

  2. Look for opportunities

    Find people or groups that share your passion. Start within your community. Search online using Volunteer Manitoba or simply search for “Volunteer opportunities in ____ (ex: Winnipeg)” on Google. You can also use your network to search. Ask family, friends, or someone from an immigrant-serving organization you’ve met if they know of interesting opportunities for you. Read 5 best places to volunteer in Manitoba for more ideas.

    Assess the volunteer want ads if they fit your expectations. Check the responsibilities, location and the time commitment required.

  3. Prepare the requirements

    They may ask for a resume or ask you to fill out an application. In any case, having your latest targeted resume ready will come in handy. Be ready with two to three references. Some organizations may ask for a Child Abuse Registry Check, or Police Record Check but this will depend on the nature of the volunteer work you’re applying to. Check with the organization to be sure.

  4. Prepare for the interview

    Learn about the organization – Visit the organization’s website to get more information. Read about their activities and know more about their mission, vision and goals. See how they align with yours.

    Anticipate questions – Practise answering some common job interview questions so that you won’t be nervous on the day of the interview. See some of the sample questions from the video below:

    Top 10 volunteer interview questions from Mock questions

  5. Ace the interview

    Make a good first impression – Come on time. Be confident and show enthusiasm. Greet people warmly, be polite and attentive. Also, have a firm handshake and maintain eye contact.

    Answer behavioural questions using STAR – STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. Follow this pattern when answering questions. This will keep your answer clear, concise and relevant.

    How to succeed in your job interview: Behavioural Questions from EngVid

    Express how you can contribute to the organization clearly – Explain how your interests and skills will contribute to the organization’s goals. Emphasize your advocacy. Mention previous volunteer experience if you have. Outline some of your positive contributions so that they will have an idea of what you are capable of doing.

    Ask questions – This shows your commitment to doing a good job. You can ask about:

    • orientation and training
    • flexibility about schedule changes (especially if you have shift work or are actively applying to jobs)
    • the minimum time commitment

Stay positive and you’ll do well. Good luck!

Sources: Volunteer interviews: 5 tips for sharing your motivation, Olivia Ryan/Basil Sadiq, Volunteer match.org; Pan Canadian Youth Opportunities Platform, Volunteer Canada; Volunteer Screening: The interview, Verified Volunteers; and Volunteer interview tips, Marcy Brinkley, Livestrong. Retrieved January 10, 2019.

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