Employers are missing out on talented individuals by failing to recognise volunteering and social action experience when recruiting, according to a new publication from CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, and the #iwill campaign.

The report, ‘Unlock new talent: How can you integrate social action in recruitment?’ found that less than one fifth (16%) of employers ask about candidates volunteering on application forms and under a third (31%) ask about it during interviews.

The report also found that 67 percent of employers report that entry-level candidates who have social action experience demonstrate more employability skills. The top three skills cited by respondents were teamwork (82%), communication (80%) and understanding the local community (45%).

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD says:

“Historically, concern with social action, including volunteering, typically fitted within organisations’ corporate social responsibility agenda, and was often seen as a bridge between companies and the community. However, we believe that there is a strong case for social action to be integrated more widely into organisations’ people development and resourcing strategies.

“A key challenge for recruiters is that candidates often fail to highlight their social action experience, unless given the opportunity to do so, as many still regard traditional work experience as being more important to employers. With the difficulties that many young people also face in terms of securing good quality work experience, it is clear that social action has a huge role to play in terms of skills development. 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.”

The report argues that integrating social action into the recruitment process allows employers to tap into a pool of talented individuals that might otherwise be overlooked. At the same time this would demonstrate to young people that social action is worthwhile in terms of helping them to develop key skills that will be of value to employers.

Charlotte Hill, chief executive at Step Up To Serve, says:

“We know that communities and organisations benefit from having young people participate in social action projects. This report with support from businesses and employers reaffirms the notion of the ‘double benefit’ as young people that take part in social action also gain the skills they need for work and life. Encouraging businesses to embed this in recruitment will really change the face of social action participation across the UK.”