National Service

Why Job Candidates from Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Are Good for Business

September 15, 2015  • Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Wendy Spencer, Guest Bloggers

Above, watch a panel of national service and employment leaders discuss how hiring decisions are made, what skills national service alumni bring to employers, and the future of the Employers of National Service initiative.

Carrie Hessler-Radelet is director of Peace Corps. Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. On the one-year anniversary of the Employers of National Service initiative, Hessler-Radelet and Spencer explain why businesses should make an effort to hire individuals who have served in Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Mission oriented. Globally minded. Proven leadership experience in complex, unpredictable environments. Exceptional intercultural skills. Adept at managing limited resources to ensure long-term impact. Flexible. Collaborative. Passionate.

Believe it or not, highly skilled, exceptionally qualified candidates like the ones described above do exist, and not just on paper. They’re ready, willing, and available, and now, there’s a better way than ever for employers to tap into that talent pipeline.

One year ago, President Barack Obama announced a forward-thinking initiative — Employers of National Service — to connect alumni of our nation’s service corps with our country’s leading employers. He urged employers from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to participate, saying: “If you’re an employer who wants to hire talented, dedicated, patriotic, skilled, tireless, energetic workers, look to AmeriCorps, look to Peace Corps… Citizens who perform national service are special. You want them on your team.”  

As leaders of America’s foremost service organizations, we are inspired daily by the incredible contributions that Peace Corps volunteers and AmeriCorps members make to our country and our world. But their lasting impact goes beyond the ways in which they change lives in the communities where they serve; it’s also evident in the unique skills, insights, and experiences that they gain from their service — sought-after assets for any organization in any sector.

Consider volunteers like Cully Davis, who served with Peace Corps as an English teacher in Thailand. Today, he is managing director at Credit Suisse, helping to oversee equity capital market growth in the Americas. And he credits his Peace Corps experience with fostering many of the traits critical to his day-to-day work, from patience to creativity to managing ambiguity. “These are skills I use today as a managing partner, identifying innovative high-technology companies and helping them finance further growth,” he said.

Jessica Graham spent two years as an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools in Boston. She currently works with tech giant Cisco in government and community relations, and her service left her well-prepared for a role in the corporate world. The skills she developed through AmeriCorps enhanced her passions for service and connecting communities with corporate resources to solve local challenges. “Service teaches members to be someone who is invested in success for everyone,” she said. “And you see how your little piece of the pie can fit into the bigger picture.”

The idea of national service alumni as an outstanding talent source for employers isn’t new. Multinational corporations and international NGOs have been hiring returned Peace Corps volunteers for decades. And domestically, AmeriCorps alumni have been sought-after hires since the program’s inception 20 years ago.

What is new with Employers of National Service — a partnership among Peace Corps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute, AmeriCorps Alums, and National Peace Corps Association — is the effort to formalize these connections and take what has been an informal network of employers to scale. Through this partnership, employers gain increased access to a dedicated, highly qualified, and mission-oriented pool of potential employees. National service alumni gain additional opportunities to apply their skills in the workplace. 

One year since Obama’s call to action, nearly 250 employers from private, public, and nonprofit sectors have signed on as Employers of National Service. They’ve seen, as Stacey D. Stewart, US president of United Way Worldwide, put it, that the alumni of our nation’s service corps are:

Proven leaders with the commitment and resolve to get things done. They encompass diverse skill sets and experience that enable them to work effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds, which is so crucial for resolving community challenges. They would be a valuable addition to any organization.

When we look at the growing list of participating groups, what’s evident is not just the number of employers who are eager to hire service alumni, but also the incredible diversity of organizations represented:

The list above may seem like a disparate group, but what they have in common is they are all excited about tapping into our talented pool of national service alumni. In the years to come, we look forward to helping even more employers connect with the mission-oriented pool of potential employees available among our nation’s service corps.

So, if you’re an employer eager to hire motivated, flexible, innovative, and outcome-oriented leaders, we want to hear from you. If you’re an AmeriCorps alum or a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer hoping to advance your career, we want to help you connect with the next great opportunity.

Whether you’re looking to fill a job or find a job, we hope you’ll start with Employers of National Service — an innovative initiative dedicated to helping organizations of all kinds find just what they’re looking for — people with the grit, skills, and spirit to get the job done.

Learn more about becoming an Employer of National Service member by visiting the Corporation for National and Community Service website.