Skills that volunteers gain and employers want

A major benefit of volunteering is the ability to develop so-called ‘transferable skills’, ones that could help expat partners land a paid job again in the future. What are these skills and how can they be showcased?

Non-specific strengths

Transferable skills are skills based on past experience, that can be carried over into a new role. They are not specific to a particular type of job or career field, but recruiters say that they are nevertheless incredibly valuable to employers. Transferable skills show how you can be a good fit for the team, demonstrate what you can bring to a role, and how much you’ve learnt from previous positions or experiences.

Top skills

Leadership, communication, teamwork, project management and problem solving skills are among the ‘top skills that will propel a career and CV forward’, according to international HR consulting firm Randstad. A quick Google search reveals many more transferable skills employers like to see, including: initiative, a strong work ethic, dedication, persistence, compassion, commitment, perseverance, sense of mission, decision making, planning, organising, prioritising and information processing.

Expat partners

Experts advise to use such online lists to identify which transferable skills have been gained from volunteering experience. Expat partners can then put these skills on their CV and talk about them in job interviews. If their volunteer role is related to their professional field, it can be listed just like a job in the work experience section of their CV. If not, expat partners are advised to create a volunteer section in which to highlight the transferable skills they’ve gained that are relevant to their job goal.

Keeping a record

Simply giving a list of transferable skills isn’t enough. Examples need to be provided of how they were used.

So, don’t say: ‘Great leadership skills’

But do say: ‘Excellent leadership skills, demonstrated when I successfully managed a small team of individuals on a three day hike for a charity event’

Crafting a CV like this is easier said than done, of course. It can be difficult for an individual to remember all the things they’ve done as a volunteer. That’s why some experts recommend keeping a record of volunteer activities. This will help expat partners jog their memory in order to perfectly tailor their CV and come up with outstanding examples of how they used their transferable skills as a volunteer.


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