Volunteering’…..surely there’s got to be a better word?

Posted on: 15th December 2011

LinkedIn, the social-networking site for people with business cards, has released its list of the year’s most overused professional buzzwords, culled from the profiles of its 135 million members. As one might expect, they’re terms that sound awfully nice but say almost nothing specific about a person. They’re the type of terms that are roughly the equivalent of listing “showing up to work” in your skills section… for every self-respecting professional it’s essential reading!

In these heady days of ‘The Big Society’, I’d like to throw another increasingly uninformative term……. ‘volunteering’!

Hmmmmm, see what I mean? What is that all about exactly? Ok, it’s fine to a point but in the worst cases can sometimes be a little patronising. What’s more important; what you do or how much you are financially rewarded for it? We know that it doesn’t involve any exchange of money but is that because all you do is make cups of tea all day or ladle soup? As a matter of fact, both of those have their place in the right context, but this word seems to be used as if it automatically explains the kind of work that holds places like Body & Soul together.

From this point on, I’ll avoid using the said term, but suitable alternatives create their own problems - believe me I’ve tried.
Simple solution: ask the 200 people who work here, without pay, to create their own terminology that tells us exactly what they do. Hopefully, it should speak for itself…

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