As COS (close of service) approaches, so does the reality of having to return to life-before-Peace-Corps. No more easy access to medical and dental care. No more staff to call if I’m having a problem. All my PCV friends, leaving town! And, the biggest reality bummer of all – gotta get a job! Of course, I’ve always been aware this day would come, and I’ve been researching and planning for it for a while now. None of which has gotten me a job yet, but I’ve still got just under three months to go, so send me your best wishes. In the meantime, prompted by an inquiry on the 50+ PCV Facebook page, I’m going to share my research with anyone who would like to take a look. So this post will be very short on stories and photos, but I’ll try to make up for it with useful links.
First of all (in response to the Facebook inquiry), I’m not aware of any Peace Corps special help or program for 50+ volunteers at all. There is a brand-new program called “Emerging Leaders” for “early to mid-career professional RPCVs with a degree in business, international studies, law, or sciences, and have 2-10 years of professional work experience.” You can find out more about it here:
All of their regular help is available to us, but if there’s anything beyond that, I’ve never been able to find it. Having said that, their regular help is pretty good. Before I start providing the links, I’ll offer some advice. While researching and working on resumes and such between MST and COS is a good idea, applying for positions more than 3 months in advance of your COS date is pretty much an exercise in futility. I speak from sad experience, having sent out a resume in February that resulted in a very fast response and an excellent interview the same week, only to have it all crash and burn because they understandably couldn’t wait until July for me to make my way to Washington DC! Federal jobs of course can take a lot longer, but it’s a gamble to apply too far out, for the same reason. I sought advice on this from staff and some contacts in DC, and the answer I got was – 3 months out.
So, first advice on the work you need to do between MST and COS. First, if you plan to apply for federal jobs, start learning how to write a federal resume, which is quite different from a normal, 2-page summary. It’s much more detailed and demands a lot of factual back-up for every assertion made. This may require you to write to your old job and ask some questions! Personally I certainly can’t remember every grant I wrote for the last 20 years, or every budget, or even my last salary level! Luckily my former employer was very helpful. So, here are some good places to look at examples of federal resumes and see instruction on how to write them:
I also participated in a webinar led by someone from OPM who gave a very thorough presentation on this topic. He allowed us to download his presentation and you can find it here:
Now, aside from writing federal resumes, there’s drafting of normal resumes as well. It’s easy to research this – just google it, and thousands of articles and samples will pop up, so I won’t provide any here – you just have to peruse. But, there are some tips for 50+ job hunters that I found in a few helpful articles, here:
Much of the advice these articles address concern three myths about older people: older adults are too set in their ways; older adults aren’t tech-savvy and older people aren’t resilient, and offer advice about how to offset these stereotypes. This can be useful. For instance, I really spiffed up my LinkedIn profile and did all the things advised here:
OK, so you’ve worked on your resume, you’ve fixed up your LinkedIn account (or opened one, :-)), you’re 3 months out from COS, where do you look?
First, start with Peace Corps resources. They have a “Peace Corps Virtual Career Center” page with a lot of resources, here:
They post job openings of all sorts – domestic, international, public and private sector – here:
You can sign-up for an email service that either daily or weekly sends you all the jobs, or just in the categories you select.
Next, there’s a good Facebook page for job-seekers, here:
Another good source is the National Peace Corps Association job page, here:
Sometimes there is duplication between all these sites, of course, but that’s ok, it’s easy to catch.
Next, there’s the dreaded USAJOBS. This is only for federal jobs, and if you want to work for the government, this is the only portal of entry. You can create a variety of searches there, save resumes, etc. Does it work? I’ve heard it’s a black hole, but there isn’t really any choice. I’ll let you know whether it works for me or not! Here it is:
Another really good source is the PND Job Bulletin, PND standing for Philanthropy News Digest, from the Foundation Center. They send out a weekly email bulletin that has really good nonprofit jobs that I don’t see elsewhere. You can find them here:
There are other job-search sites that might be helpful. Please keep in mind that I am not a teacher – I am an IOD PCV, and worked in the non-profit field prior to that, so this list skews that way. I’m sure there are other education sites, but sorry, I don’t know them. I can’t personally vouch for any of these, but they seem worth exploring, anyway.
Last, I’ll give the advice that we all hear, but it bears repeating – network and reach out to your contacts as much as you can. In the course of our careers we 50+ PCVs have amassed a lot of experience and know a lot of people, and we can use that to our advantage.
Good luck to everyone.