How Do I Get A Job After My Peace Corps Service?

lib-2009-071009-d979-version-2-1Thinking of finding a job after serving in the Peace Corps can seem daunting, especially when you have been hearing about the difficulties of finding employment in the current job market.   Yes, the current job market is very competitive, but you have also just spent the past two years gaining valuable knowledge and skills that are very transferable for any job. Many returned Peace Corp volunteers (RPCVs) have asked me how to highlight their transferable skills.  The following are 3 tips to getting your transferable skills noticed:

  1. Scratch "Volunteer" as your position title. The term "volunteer" can have different connotations for different employers.    Some may view it as a light commitment or even a vacation.   You had a full time "job" with Peace Corps and had to show up every day and work hard.   I was a Business Development and Livelihoods Specialist when I was in the Peace Corps (vs a Community Development Volunteer).   Instead of a volunteer teacher, you may have been a Computer Science or Math Teacher.   If you managed people, you were a manager.  Give prospective employers a window into your knowledge and skills through a real position title.
  1. Don’t sell yourself short. Many times I hear from RPCVs, "but I only taught English."  You did more than that!  Chances are you developed your own curriculum, developed your own teaching tools, mentored and counseled troubled youth apart from teaching English, developed the capacity of adult learners, and became fluent in a foreign language.   Think about the broader skills and knowledge you obtained from your experience and articulate them in terms that will be meaningful to a prospective employer(s).
  1. Demonstrate your problem solving skills. One of the most important transferable skills you learned as a Peace Corps volunteer was how to solve problems.  EVERY employer wants employees who know how to solve problems and think on their feet.  You learned to be very resourceful.  No one told you what you had to do.  You had to figure it out for yourself, and you learned many valuable lessons about yourself and your capabilities.   Determine the types of problems that might be encountered in the job or place where you want to work.  Think about how you could tackle those problems and make this clear in your resume, cover letter or at the job interview.

Making your Peace Corps experience relevant to prospective employers by articulating your transferable skills will be your best bet in finding a post-Peace Corps job.

Good luck with your job search!