Job Search Basics
Explore the Basic Job Search Elements Below
This is a fundamental step that is often overlooked, but is perhaps the most critical step in achieving your career goal. Take the time to evaluate your skills, your interests, and your dreams. What have you done in relationship to what you want to do? What steps do you need to take to reach your ultimate career goal?
To assist you with your self-assessment, Returned Volunteer Services (RVS) makes available to you Focus Careers. Focus Careers is a highly interactive career assessment tool that is designed to help you make informed and rational decisions about your field of study and career. It can help you assess your work-related values, interests, and skills by examining your key motivators and matching work-related values, interests, and skills to educational and career pathways. In order to register for a Focus Careers account, you must submit to RVS (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email request containing your full name, country, and dates of Peace Corps service.
Once you have defined your skills, work values, educational background, and career interests, it will be time to start researching. Find out as much as you can about the field you've chosen. Use every possible resource: local libraries, your alma mater career resource center, community career resource centers, the career resource areas in many of the Peace Corps Recruitment Offices nationwide, and the RPCV Career Center in the DC area.
Gather as much information as possible about trends in the field, what organizations have employees in the field, where the organizations are located, what the salary range is, and what the various titles given to jobs in the field are. Be thorough in your research and maintain files or a notebook to stay organized.
A study in the private sector mentioned that a resume gets only about 11 seconds of attention from potential employers. That's not a lot of time to let them know what you've done. Keeping this in mind, keep the resume clear, concise, and looking sharp. Remember to use proactive verbs such as managed, implemented, developed, researched, wrote, designed, created, etc.
And don't forget the importance of a well-designed resume. The way it looks is as important as what it says! This is an advertisement of YOU! Present yourself on paper as best you can in 11 seconds.
The term "networking" has become a cliché in the job search. But the term is being widely used for a reason - it works! In today's market, it is next to impossible to get a job without knowing somebody who knows somebody. Let it be known that you are on a job search. Ask any and all of your friends and acquaintances to keep you informed of possible job vacancies in their organizations or with organizations with which they may have contacts. One of the most successful ways to network is through informational interviewing. For more information on networking, RPCVs may read the Hotline article, "Networking Won't Bite." (PDF)
How familiar are you with your career field today? Setting up informational interviews is one of the best ways to learn more about the career field of your choice, as well as doubling as a networking option. Ask friends, family, colleagues, and fellow RPCVs if they know anybody in your career field who might be interested in taking 15 minutes of their time to share their expertise about the field.
After setting up the informational interview, prepare by writing down thoughtful questions for your interviewee about their responsibilities and best advice for you, and have copies of your resume on hand.
The day of the interview, dress and present yourself professionally; make certain you don't take more time than what was originally agreed upon; and be sure to thank your interviewers, give them a copy of your resume, and ask them if they know anybody else in the field who may also be interested in speaking with you. Although you shouldn't approach an informational interview with the idea that it will offer more contacts and job leads, oftentimes this is the case. Lastly, don't forget those thoughtful thank you letters! For more information on networking, RPCVs may read the Hotline article, "Informational Interviewing: Get the inside scoop on careers." (PDF)
Here it is: the day you've so diligently worked towards. You've slaved over books in the RPCV Career Center, you've bought a new interviewing suit, you've mapped out a career plan, you have a notebook bursting open with contacts in your field, and your dynamic resume has achieved for you an interview with the organization of your dreams. But the day of the interview you wake up feeling queasy. Are you getting sick? Or is it maybe just jitters from anticipation?
Interviews can leave you feeling anxious and unsure of yourself. Try your best to approach them with as much confidence as possible. Hopefully, the informational interview process has given you some practice in this process. Prepare yourself further by practicing your interviewing techniques with friends, in front of a mirror, or even use a video machine or tape recording device if you're fortunate enough to have one at your disposal.
If you have a phone, rather than in-person, interview, read some best practices and advice from RPCVs who have successfully interviewed via phone in the Hotline article, "Acing the Phone Interview: Tips for RPCVs." (PDF)
Last updated Jan 22 2013