Hints and Tips on Applying

Hints and Tips for Applicants

Firstly, take the plunge and apply. Many successful applicants and returned volunteers state that the best advice they can give is to simply apply and see where it takes you. We’ve put together these hints and tips to assist you in compiling your volunteer application.

Do your research

Successful applicants are well suited for the position they’re applying for. They have carefully considered and researched the assignment, the host organisation, the location and country of the assignment. Successful applicants are able to clearly identify the skills, experiences and personal qualities they have developed that are relevant to the role, and to explain how this will enable them to achieve the assignment outcomes. They are able to give specific and relevant examples. They are able to self-reflect and identify their own areas for improvement, and have developed strategies to address their own challenges or developmental areas.

Candidates are not expected to have previous overseas experience. Successful applicants are however able to refer to a wide variety of life experiences; for example previous volunteer work, coaching a sporting team, mentoring in the workplace, assisting in or conducting training and travel. Where relevant, experiences like these can be used to demonstrate the ability to be a good volunteer.

Be aware

Successful applicants are able to demonstrate awareness of the personal qualities they require to be a volunteer in a developing country. They are prepared to face the challenges of working in a developing country and foreign culture with an open mind. They are committed to the goals of the program and are motivated to work with their host organisation to achieve positive results.

Hints and Tips for your Application

  • A good application takes time. Attention to detail is important – proofread your application carefully. Ensure you follow the instructions on the application form.
  • Before you submit your application research the host organisation, the country you are applying to and the expectations and goals of the AVID program.
  • Ensure your CV accurately reflects your work and volunteer history and provide as much information as possible on relevant past roles and ensure that dates of employment are specific and accurate.
  • Use the word limit as a guide to the amount of information/ reflection the Selection
  • Panel is expecting. For example, if Question 1 is asking for up to 800 words, providing a 200 word response will not provide adequate information or detail.
  • The application that you submit is the application that the host organisation receives in order to assist them with making a decision as to whether to accept you as their volunteer once you have been recommended by the program. Therefore it is very important to produce a clearly written, concise, and well thought out application that will convince the host organisation that you are the right candidate for them.


How to address the selection criteria


Q1 – Addressing the assignment outcomes

(800 words)

Question 1 is very important in terms of convincing the Selection Panel and the host organisation that you have relevant skills and experience to achieve the outcomes of the assignment. It is important to note that this information will not be gathered from your CV – it must be clearly outlined in Question 1. Your CV will outline your past professional experience, but in Question 1 you will explain how that experience will relate to this particular role and outcomes.

The Selection Panel will be assessing you on the following:

That you have individually addressed each assignment outcome and provided relevant professional examples where you have undertaken similar tasks.

That you have made clear links between these professional examples and the current assignment.

Provided evidence that you have researched the host organisation and discussed the skills and experience you will bring not only to the role but also the host organisation

Tip: Make it clear to the Selection Panel that you are addressing each assignment outcome by using these as headings and providing your relevant information under each outcome. You may wish to use the STAR approach when detailing examples of your experience:

Situation – briefly outline what the situation was.

Task – explain what task you had been asked to do and why this was outside your job description.

Actions – describe the actions that you took in response to the request.

Result – explain what the outcome was.


Q2 – Provide an example

(300 words)

Question 2 is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your motivations for applying for this assignment. The Selection Panel needs to be satisfied that the candidates that they shortlist for interview have researched and made informed decisions about the role, the country they could be living in, the host organisation, and the time commitment required.

The Selection Panel will be assessing you on the following:

Your ability to reflect on your various motivations for applying for this assignment

Your commitment to volunteering

Why is this assignment important to you and why do you want to volunteer?

That you have researched the specific country

That you have researched the specific host organisation


Q3 – Motivation to live and work in your chosen country

(600 words)

Question 3 seeks to assess your preparedness and expectations around undertaking this volunteer assignment. It is therefore important to thoroughly research the country that you are applying to before submitting your application to ensure that you are aware of the cultural practices, local language, legislation, climate, security risks, etc. to ensure that this is the right environment for you. For example, some countries may conflict with your religious beliefs, your lifestyle, or the climate may be too harsh. These are just some of the factors to consider before submitting your application. Successful applicants are able to self-reflect and develop strategies to address their own challenges or developmental areas.

The Selection Panel will be assessing you on the following:

That you have researched the specific country and reflected on the challenges you may face living in this particular environment (which is potentially in a remote setting).

That you have reflected on the challenges you may encounter working in that specific country and within that host organisation.

That you have provided appropriate strategies that you would put in place to overcome each challenge that you have identified.

Tip: These challenges are not meant to be insurmountable – they are simply the factors that you will find challenging and different living and working in this country, so be realistic about what you expect to face as it demonstrates to the Panel that you have thought about the realities of living in a new and sometimes challenging environment. Having very few challenges does not show a resilient candidate, it could show an ill-prepared one, so be as specific as you can so that the challenges clearly link to that specific country or that specific host organisation. Be realistic about your expectations of the assignment outcomes.