Speaking the Lingo (Translating your Year of Service)

While many employers (especially official Employers of National Service) understand what AmeriCorps is, many do not. While marketing AmeriCorps and the skills you’ve gained, it is important to translate your service into the native lingo of potential employers.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about AmeriCorps; by all means, your service term is a great method to communicate your employability! Here’s how:

  1. DO talk about the “year-long commitment” of an AmeriCorps member. You served your community and your country for a designated, contracted amount of time. You completed that commitment. Market that (strongly) to potential employers. They want evidence you’ll stick around for more than 2 weeks. Employers and recruiters typically think long-term.
  2. Give employers numerical evidence of your success. Abstract ideas don’t market as well as statistics. “I underwrote loans to move 100 people into affordable housing units in 2015” sounds much more marketable than “I built hope for families.”
    • Pro-Tip: Keep track of statistics during your term (I used an excel spreadsheet for this actual underwriting statistic) define them how you will, but DO track numbers. National Service reports are a good place to start.
  3. Sell your skills, even if you are only beginning to develop them. What better employee to hire than someone who is already pursing training? Ambition is a valuable asset to a company. Not every prospective employee can demonstrate it like AmeriCorps members, who are learning and developing their skills for most of their service year.
  4. Don’t sell yourself short: talk about your program. Welcome to the 21st century: a new era of business. Companies these days are looking for community projects and ways to connect with them (especially banks and financial firms) if you’re already passionately devoted to a non-profit, your connections could be incredibly valuable to the firm. Sell that.
  5. Brand yourself as a citizen personally invested in the welfare of communities. Employers will notice if you have your own personal brand. AmeriCorps stands out: not everyone does it, enjoys it, or completes it. Some people have never heard of it. Almost all employers today ask if you have community service experience. Trust me: you have the best type of community service experience.

Test out translating your year in AmeriCorps at our upcoming Exclusive Networking Fair on May 25th at Seattle’s Impact Hub. Doors open at 3:00 p.m., register for your spot today.

picture.jpgAbout the Author Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she is serving as the Store Development Coordinator for the two Habitat Stores in Seattle. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle enjoys hiking, running, and reading on the docks of Lake Washington.


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