Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer overseas?

When it comes to volunteering abroad, the benefits of the experience are endless. However, it’s also about what each individual can bring to the table, as completing a voluntary placement abroad is definitely a challenge. Here are some of the soft skills you will need when applying for a placement.


Any company you choose to apply to will need to see that you can adhere to social, ethical and organisational norms while working. If you have worked or studied in the UK for an extended length of time, you’ll already be used to following codes of conduct. However, you’ll also need to show you can abide by the socially accepted norms of your chosen country as well.


Volunteering abroad can be stressful, and you’ll need to be able to maintain a stable performance under pressure. Make sure you can identify your own personal signs of stress and choose positive coping strategies in order to manage in a new environment.


While you’ll have plenty of support, you’ll also need to show that you can look after yourself independently. Volunteers are often required to manage their own workload and meet their own needs while working abroad as well as collaborating with others.


This is a useful skill for any job, but particularly relevant for volunteering abroad. You’ll need a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses in order to be an effective volunteer, as well as a strong knowledge of how your beliefs and emotions may influence your work.


While you’ll no doubt receive plenty of gratitude for your voluntary work abroad, you should also be able to receive criticism or negative feedback well. Any job carries the threat of disappointment or setbacks with it and you’ll need to be able to bounce back quickly and learn from any mistakes.

Cultural sensitivity

As a volunteer in a foreign country, you’ll need to remain open to all people, regardless of race, religion of culture. As well as this, you should also be open to learning and understanding more about other cultures. This will help you to communicate and interact effectively with people from different countries and organisations.

People skills

An approachable, friendly manner is essential for any voluntary role. You’ll need to be able to impress upon others a sense of humility, humour and sensitivity in all of your interactions in order to establish good relationships. Patience, respect and good listening skills are a must.


Because volunteering can be quite varied, a flexible approach to your tasks will serve you well. Being able to modify your style and approach to different environments or schedules will help you greatly in your role. Not to mention that being in another country can carry a culture shock with it ─ you’ll need to be able to adjust your behaviour to your new working environment as soon as you arrive.

Problem solving skills

Another good skill for any job, problem solving skills will help you to develop innovative solutions and implement new ways of working should any challenges arise. Being able to break down a particular obstacle or situation will help you to provide the best for your organisation every time.

These are just some of the many skills required for volunteering abroad. Websites such as contain plenty of information for prospective volunteers, including some of the many locations available around the world. Volunteers are valued the world over, including volunteer as a human rights officer – more information on this project is available online.

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