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The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
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Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
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Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
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If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

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Job Search Tips and Services for Returned Volunteers

Write your next chapter

We recommend a four-pronged approach to help Returned Peace Corps Volunteers envision and attain career success:

  1. Know yourself: Identify and prioritize your skills, values, and the best work environment for you.
  2. Know the opportunities: Conduct online research and set up informational interviews with professionals already in the field.
  3. Know how to tell your story: Communicate your skills and accomplishments through interviews, resumes, cover letters, and your online presence.
  4. Know your worth: Learn how to negotiate before taking a job offer—and how to grow and excel in your new work environment after you’ve begun.

Know yourself

The first stage, “know yourself,” is an intentional process of identifying and prioritizing your skills, personality type, learning styles, career values, preferred work environment, and more. It can range from a formal process of conducting self-assessments with a career development specialist, to informal processes such as self-reflection and list making.

There are a number of free and paid resources and assessments available. The Peace Corps provides access to one comprehensive tool, Focus2Careers in the RPCV Portal, to get you started.

Because Peace Corps service is such a transformational professional and personal experience, it’s likely that your skills, values, and interests have changed through the course of your service. Plan to check back in to “know yourself” as your life situation changes.

Know the opportunities

Once you have a sense of how you can best contribute to organizations and the types you’d like to work for, you can then find the ones that would be a good fit for you, using the many online resources available and your own professional network.

This stage may be the most important aspect of your job search and your overall career satisfaction. Getting the inside scoop about what it’s like to work for a particular company, or in a particular role, before you decide to apply or to accept a position, will make your job search more efficient and effective. You’ll discover which companies and jobs might not be a good fit for you and what specific companies are looking for in their applicants. You’ll make connections in those companies that may help you learn about openings before they are posted on jobs boards.

How to research

Online research: Check out how employees review their employers on various websites. Following a company’s social media presence is another way to familiarize yourself with an organization and its culture.

In-person networking: Create business cards and refine your elevator pitch. Make a habit of introducing yourself to people and asking them about their professional lives. Seek out online tools that can help you find professional meet-ups and industry networking events.

Online networking: Grow and engage your professional network through platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and more. Build your brand through publishing tools and use advanced searches to identify RPCVs working in the roles you want to pursue. Networking is the best way to efficiently find and connect with professionals you think would be helpful in forming and attaining your career goals.

Career chats: After connecting with someone online or at an event, a 15- to 20-minute follow-up career chat, or informational interview, is a great way to have your detailed questions answered. Remember, career chats are about you collecting information to help you make informed decisions as you apply to jobs and decide among opportunities. This is also a chance to develop relationships with professionals in the field. These contacts may eventually serve as references for you in the future, so cultivate the relationship and make sure it's mutually beneficial.

Know how to tell your story

After you know the opportunities you are interested in and have made connections, it’s time to communicate to hiring managers why you are the best person for the job. Your online presence, cover letter, resume, and in-person interviews help you do that.

Because employers are inundated with options when filling open positions, you need to communicate succinctly and clearly why you are the best person for the job. Your cover letter and resume will help you get an interview, which can lead to getting an offer. Remember, your online presence can be checked at any point and should frame you as a professional worthy of being hired.

How to tell your story

Online presence: Use your online presence to develop and promote your professional brand. At a minimum, take down any embarrassing photos or unflattering posts or documents. Search for your name online and make sure that the results support your professional image. If they don't, work on improving your results (claim your domain name, create a personal website, link your social media profiles, fill out your profiles, etc.)

Cover letter: Always include a cover letter unless you are specifically instructed otherwise. Your cover letter is a great way to demonstrate your writing skills and provide context for your resume. Access cover letters tips [PDF].

Resume: Your resume is meant to get you an interview. Non-federal resumes are typically one- to two-page documents while federal resumes tend to be longer and much more thorough. Both types clearly demonstrate how your experience matches the qualifications of the job announcement. Don't just simply list the job duties you’ve had in previous positions. Add bullet points that focus on measurable accomplishments. USAJobs has a resume builder you can use and a calendar of events that help with resume building. Many agencies also have federal resume guides and sample resumes.

Interview: Interviews can take a variety of forms and are meant to assess everything from your skills to your cultural fit with an organization. See some video tips to make the most of your interview opportunities.

Know your worth

After you receive an offer, make sure you are being adequately compensated. And after you accept a position and start, you need to know how to maximize your impact and grow your career.

When negotiating salary, factor in everyday expenses in your calculations, as the cost of living can vary widely across the U.S. and abroad. Much like you did with your initial job search research, you can use a number of online tools to help you approximate salaries for the target geographic area and industry.

Beyond salary, remember to consider (or ask about) all aspects of a compensation offer, such as student loan relief, transportation benefits, retirement and health insurance benefits, mobile phone reimbursements, time off for volunteer activities, company meals, performance bonuses, and equity stakes.

Search online for salary calculators specific to your industry and locations.

After you accept an offer, don't stop thinking about your job search and negotiation. Develop and track your own success metrics and accomplishments and continue networking. From your annual reviews to promotions within your company to your next job search, keep re-examining your strengths, interests, and values. Stay apprised of industry information and engage and expand your network.

Finally, there are a number of books, advice columns, and career counselors that provide general advice to help you advance in your career. Your best source of advice, however, will likely be the network you developed during your job search, especially Returned Volunteers who work in the same organization.  Many federal agencies have RPCV employee resource groups that can serve as a wonderful set of mentors and helpers. These folks will best know your specific career field and your strengths and goals.

As you become established in your career, you might need to decide between jumping to another company or accepting a promotion with your current employer. In such instances, your network can help put your decision into context and assist you in sorting through the pros and cons of your options.

Other career resources

Make your resume searchable: Learn how to create a profile, search jobs, and make your resume searchable [PDF] within the federal government.

Noncompetitive Eligibility: Recently Returned Volunteers have 12 months of noncompetitive eligibility within the federal government. This special status gives you an edge if you apply to federal jobs.

Federal job search tips: Most federal jobs are posted on Familiarize yourself with the site, its resume builder, and advanced search tools. Check out the USAJOBS Help Center to learn how to use USAJOBS.

Career panels and videos: RPCV Careers hosts web chats with employers and virtual training sessions on a variety of topics. You can watch recorded videos or join live. View our upcoming events.

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