Service opportunities are just that; opportunities. They are a chance for individuals to participate in activities that will enhance their lives and the lives of those around them. It also provides them with the opportunity to capitalize off of their own talents and skills. AmeriCorps members, specifically VMCs, are serving at their host organizations and doing really amazing things. A lot of times, it’s hard to see just how the AmeriCorps experience can be articulated. Yes, AmeriCorps members use their skills and talents to build capacity for their host organizations. Yes, AmeriCorps members help specific communities in need. But how do you talk about it? How do you tell someone what it is that you do? How do you tell future employers what it is that you are doing as an AmeriCorps member? My answer: brag.
For some reason, bragging is looked down upon in our society. Despite this, when entering into conversation, some of the first things that people ask about is your career, your family, your hometown, or your current place of residence. Normally, this is considered polite conversation. To me, it presents an opportunity to brag. In these conversations, people usually go on and on about their children’s accomplishments, their career accomplishments, or the affluence/lack of affluence of their neighborhood or hometown. If bragging has such a negative connotation, why do we present ourselves with so many opportunities to do it?
My point: AmeriCorps members (and several others) do a lot for communities and organizations, in addition to gaining extensive professional development skills. In order to accurately give someone (especially a future employer) a snapshot of what it is that you do as an AmeriCorps member or volunteer, why not do so in terms of your accomplishments? According to an article by Quintessential Careers, accomplishments are the points that really help sell you to an employer. Taking time to explain your experience in terms of accomplishments can help boost your resume, cover letter, and even help your interview!
- List the special things you did in each service position that you’ve held then list why each of these activities makes you different from others in that position.
- What did you do to make each service position your own?
- Write down whether you left the organization that you served with better off than before you served and why.
- What were you most proud of in each service position?
- What tangible evidence do you have of your accomplishments within a position: publications, products, documents you’ve written?
- Quantify your accomplishments! For example you could write: I increased the number of volunteers from 2 to 60 over the course of 11 months.
I know, I know bragging doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Especially not to shy, somewhat awkward people like me. Here’s the issue. People brag everyday about things like the delicious meal they had for dinner at whatever new fad restaurant and about the shoes they bought at whatever sale the stumbled upon at whatever high-end, overly-priced store they shop in. People even brag about how cute their pets are in Christmas costumes! This might be everyday conversation to some. To others, it’s bragging. The point is it’s perfectly ok to brag! I say, in addition to bragging about your gifted child is, why not brag about what you’ve accomplished while serving?
For more tips on talking about service accomplishments within the job search, click here!