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Job Search Tips & Services

Explore the resources below and learn to confidently navigate your job search.

  • Career Decision Making

    Before embarking on your job search, take a fresh look at what direction is right for you.

    Career Decision Making: Turning Your Passion Into a Job (Video)

    Email the RPCV Career Center to request free access to a career self-assessment tool to evaluate (or re-evaluate) your skills, interests, and dreams post-service. When requesting access, be sure to include your full name, host country, and dates of service, so we can verify your eligibility.

  • Résumés

    Studies show that employers spend less than 15 seconds reviewing a résumé. Check out some ways to make yours stand out.

    Writing Effective Cover Letters and Résumés (Video)

    • Summarize your most relevant skills in a “Key Qualifications” section at the top of your résumé. Tailor these for each job you apply for, highlighting your skills that are relevant to that job.
    • Start all experience bullets with strong action verbs such as wrote, developed, managed, designed, etc.
    • Include numbers and outcomes in your experience and accomplishment bullets whenever possible.
    • Make your résumé easy to read by using headings, bullets, and short sentences.
    • Do not include pronouns (i.e., I, we).

    • Proofread! Typos are a terrible way to make a first impression.
    • Take a look at this sample résumé to see these tips in action.

  • Cover Letters

    A well written cover letter is a crucial component to an effective job search. Even when not explicitly required, cover letters set you apart from the masses and allow you to share your commitment and enthusiasm for the job. They also prove your ability to write effectively and concisely regarding your qualifications.

    Making a Case for Cover Letters (Video)

    Effective cover letters should be:

    • 1) Under one page in length (ideally ¾ page) and written in standard business letter format.
    • 2) Used to augment not regurgitate what’s on the résumé.
    • 3) Error-free in terms of grammar and typos.
    • 4) Tailored specifically to the job, referencing your unique skill set related to job requirements.
  • Networking

    Studies show that nearly 70 percent of all jobs are unpublished and found through networking and personal referrals. Use the networking tips below to make sure you’re working all your job search channels and tapping into the hidden job market.

    The Power of Networking (Video)

    • Get contact cards (i.e., business cards) with your name, email, and phone (address not necessary). Consider adding the Peace Corps, your host country, and service dates as a line.
    • Remember, networking is NOT schmoozing. It’s relationship building. It’s expanding the network of people who know you and the skills you offer.  
    • Connect with professionals in your field of interest via LinkedIn and informational interviewing to help expand your network.
  • Informational Interviewing

    Setting up informational interviews is a great way to learn about a particular career field while also networking. Follow the tips below to use this important job search tool successfully.

    • When searching for people to approach for an informational interview, ask friends, family, colleagues, and fellow RPCVs to connect you with anyone they know in your target career field.
    • Next, contact the professional you would like to interview, briefly explaining your interest and asking if he or she would be willing to meet for 15 minutes to talk to you about the field.
    • Prepare for the interview by developing thoughtful questions regarding your contact’s responsibilities, career path, and best advice for you as you seek to enter the field.
    • On the day of the interview, dress and present yourself professionally. Don’t stay longer than you originally agreed upon unless your contact insists. Thank your interviewee and provide a copy of your résumé. Ask if he or she knows anyone else in the field who may also be willing to meet with you. Although you shouldn't approach an informational interview with the idea that it will offer more contacts and job leads, this is often the case. 
    • Follow up your interview with a thoughtful thank-you letter or email.

  • Interviewing

    Most of us get nervous when interview day rolls around. Check out the tips below to calm your nerves and ace the interview.

    Acing the Interview (Video)

    • Get as much practice before the interview as possible. Informational interviews are a great way to do this. You can even practice with a friend or in the mirror!
    • Look sharp! Regardless of what the dress code will be for the eventual job, you should look your best at the interview.
    • Review the organization’s website to familiarize yourself with the mission, structure, and any news events.
    • Prepare responses for some of the basic questions you can expect to answer during the interview. For example: “Tell us a bit about your past experience.” “Why were you interested in this position?” “Why should we choose you over other candidates?” “What is your main weakness?” “Tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult colleague.” 
    • Make a list of stories and examples that demonstrate your key skills or characteristics as related to each of the qualifications in the job description;  for example, your ability to work under pressure, take initiative, work with teams or on your own, etc. This exercise will make it easier for you to respond to questions during your interview. Pull examples from various work experiences if possible, not only the Peace Corps.
    • Compile a list of questions you’d like to ask your interviewer(s).
    • When you have the option to choose an in-person interview or a phone interview, choose the in-person interview. 
    • When you have to interview over the phone, do your best to use the tone and inflection of your voice to sound confident and professional. Take advantage of the fact that your interviewer can’t see you by preparing some notes that you can reference throughout the interview.
  • Federal Job Search Tips

    Many RPCVs find that a life of public service with the federal government— potentially working internationally—is just the route for them after service. Check out the tips below for help navigating the complex application process.

    Navigating the Federal Job Search (Video)

    • Applying to the federal government in your first year after service is a great way to capitalize on the noncompetitive eligibility status that RPCVs receive after service. Learn more about this benefit on our noncompetitive eligibility pages.
    • Prepare your federal résumé. A federal résumé is longer than a standard résumé and must include additional information such as salary for each past position, number of hours worked per week, and your supervisor’s name, contact information, and if it is OK to contact them. Here’s a sample federal résumé.
    • When applying for federal jobs, consider using the résumé builder on USAJobs to ensure you include everything required. You may store various versions of your résumé on USAJobs, which makes it easier to apply to more positions.
    • For federal vacancy announcements, a human resources contact is always listed in case applicants have questions. Feel free to contact that person with questions regarding your application. Be professional in all exchanges and always reference the vacancy announcement number when you call or email. 
    • If you apply for a federal position you feel you are well qualified for and, after submitting your application, you still get the autoresponse indicating “You’ve been found not to be qualified,” reach out to the human resources contact listed to inquire exactly why. It may be a technical error on your part (e.g., you didn’t provide all required information in your résumé) that you can avoid next time.
  • Tips for the 50+ Job-Seeker

    Mid- to later-career professionals bring unique insight and a wealth of experience to the job market but they can also face unique challenges in finding post-service employment. Employers often make assumptions about seasoned professionals—assuming these job seekers will be too expensive, that they’ll retire soon, or that they won’t be technologically savvy or able to adapt and collaborate with the younger generation of workers.

Career Resource Videos on YouTube

View even more videos on a wide array of topics on our YouTube channel.




Last updated Dec 03 2015

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