Does my résumé matter when I apply to the Peace Corps?

By Mariana Andrade-Bejarano
July 27, 2016

One of the final steps of completing your Peace Corps application is submitting the assignment selection form, which requires looking at the available openings.

In these listings, you will notice the following parts:

·    The job title followed by three dates: an application deadline, a final decision deadline and a start date.

·    The job summary under “Project Description.”

·    A “required skills” portion that lists what all applicants must have to qualify for a position (for example, a bachelor’s degree to serve in any education assignment).

·    A “desired skills” portion listing additional experiences that will make applicants stronger contenders.

These portions are outlining a job description because the Peace Corps Volunteer application is that: a job application. Would you submit one without sending a résumé? And if the job is ideal, would you not tailor that résumé to demonstrate why you are the right candidate?  

As placement officers with individually competitive countries and assignments we hire for (an invitation is essentially a job offer), we are often working to review tens if not hundreds of résumés to identify the strongest applicants. So an applicant who wants to teach math in Mozambique would do well to list how they qualify at the top of their résumé (a bachelor’s degree in math, perhaps?) instead of burying it at the very end under “Other Experience & Education.”

A targeted résumé shows that you take Peace Corps service seriously because through it, you can evidence that you researched the job and put time and thought into your application. So tell us why you qualify on the front page and you may not need more than one page! It is also a place to show us other ways in which you meet the “desired skills.” Is it through volunteering locally or through leadership at a school club? This is also valuable.

And while it is important to clarify that a résumé is not the sole deciding factor, it is the first place we will look for the required skills for the job posting. It may be hard to let go of stating every single accomplishment as a resident adviser or supervisor (it was for me) but consider this: The interview will be your chance to elaborate. So are you sure you need so many bullet points under each item? Or are all those pages ultimately getting in the way of being selected for an interview? Remember, you are probably competing with other applicants who communicated how and why they qualify for the job posting quite succinctly.

While meeting the job requirements is not all that is required to secure an invitation, highlighting how you qualify with your résumé may help get you to the interview. Utilize the resources available to you that can provide guidance on how to format your résumé for the Peace Corps. You probably need to look no further than your local recruitment office or attend a virtual event


. Use your résumé to help your application get to an interview, and then use that time to talk about the points that you had to summarize. 

Remember that serving as a Volunteer is a privilege; show us that you take it seriously.

Ready to start your Peace Corps journey? Connect with a recruiter today.

Mariana Andrade-Bejarano

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