May 01st, 2017

Applying to volunteer? 5 tips to nailing your resume and application

Deciding to become an international volunteer is no snap decision. Being overseas for an extended period of time requires consideration and careful planning. The same should be true of your application to volunteer, says AVI Recruitment Consultant Ann Ray.

Volunteering overseas means change and upheaval in many facets of life. Demonstrating that you’re prepared for this, that you’re resilient and that you understand volunteering in an international context are just some of what you the need to be factor into your application.

To ensure you’re equipped to write a successful volunteer application, we asked Ann about the top five things to include.

  1. Reveal yourself

    From the outset, applicants need to remember that this is no ordinary job application.

    “Because it affects every aspect of somebody’s life, so much more is relevant. It’s important to reflect on different parts of your life that you may not be accustomed to putting in a normal application,” she says.

    Ann says that seeing and understanding an applicant holistically is important for determining suitability for roles. How you’ll adapt in new environments, thrive in certain countries, resolve challenges and fit in with your colleagues all need to be considered.

    “Things like interests outside of normal work; I’d recommend putting these into your application, because this is about things outside of normal work. What’s important to you in the rest of your life is important to us,” she says.

    This means that if you’re into walking and jogging; fishing or knitting; or you’re an absolute foodie, these interests and passions should be included.

    Food from Indonesia

  2. Your past volunteering experience

    While you’d think it’s an obvious inclusion, Ann says that volunteer applicants often forget to include the volunteer experience they’ve had.

    “It doesn’t even matter if it was a long time ago or irrelevant to the job you’re applying for,” she adds.

    Did you run oranges at AusKick sessions? Perhaps you door-knocked for the State Emergency Service? Or maybe you spent time in administration with Oxfam? No matter what the role or organisation - all of it should be included in your application.

    “It shows us that volunteering has meaning in your life. It shows flexibility, adaptability and an ability to work with a range of people. In fact, I’d advise it be put in any job application! But for us it shows that volunteering isn’t foreign to you, and that you’re familiar with the space,” Ann says.

  3. What makes you tick? 

    Like writing a cover letter for a job application or answering selection criteria, when applying to volunteer internationally you need to define the ‘why’.  

    “Why is volunteering important to you? What does it mean? This is a great chance to show us what you’ve been thinking about and why this volunteering experience will be significant to you,” says Ann.

    “Even if you’re not asked directly, tell us about your motivations,” she adds. When recruitment staff understand this, they can reasonably make assumptions about your capability and persistence levels, and understand what will drive and satisfy you while on assignment.  

    Women around computer

  4. Preparation and research

    Have you done your research? What do you know about the country of your assignment? Have you got a range of reliable personal and technical networks to draw on? Have you made an attempt at learning the local language?

    Exhibiting that you’ve done research and considered the various elements of international volunteering and life overseas is an encouraging sign for recruiters.

    “The ones that really impress me are those that say I’ve been preparing for this experience for some time,” says Ann.

    “That might be financially, or by engaging networks, maybe attempting travel and overseas living. It’s not an overnight decision, so it’s always impressive and reassuring to see that people have considered the new and shiny, but also challenging things they might have to face,” she continues.

  5. Contact details, and lots of them!

    Applicants should never assume the recruitment team knows their details, even if they’ve provided them previously.

    “You need to put your contact details clearly on all parts of your application – and that’s all forms of contact. It’s Skype, it’s email, it’s phone, it’s websites and social media contact details if relevant,” says Ann.

    “If it’s hard to contact you, the reality is it’s less likely to happen! So give yourself the best chance and include them on all parts of your application, and in every communication you have with recruitment,” she concludes.

    Paperwork on assignment

    Ready to submit your application? Check out the current assignments and submit an application now!