Thousands of Americans find rewarding careers working for various government agencies overseas. However, each job posting receives a vast pool of talented applicants, so making yourself a desirable candidate for an overseas position is crucial.
If you’re looking for the best ways to prove value to your hiring organization, here are five of the skills and experiences you should highlight in your application for an overseas government job.
1. Speak the Primary Language
Depending on where you plan to go, speaking multiple languages could be essential. Not only will you need to speak the native language of your desired destination, but you’ll also need to read and write at an above-average proficiency in this language to be effective in your role. Be sure to highlight this ability — including your proficiency level — near the top of your resume. Include any awards or academic certificates that attest to your skills.
In addition to knowing your destination’s native language, you’ll also need to be fully versed in both oral and written English to represent your country overseas as a government employee.
2. Showcase Your Cultural Experience of the Desired Destination
Starting a new life in any country can be a challenge, but especially if you don’t already have any experience with the culture. Prove you’re the right fit for the job by highlighting any experience with the local culture you’ve already obtained.
An excellent example of past cultural experience is the Peace Corps. Ensure any Peace Corps work and other relevant experiences stand out in your resume. As a bonus, Peace Corps volunteers get a special preference in the federal hiring process. Additionally, you may have served in the military in the country that you wish to apply and your cultural experience will be favorable, plus you can utilize your Veteran’s preference.
3. Demonstrate Contracting Experience in the Desired Destination
Similar to Peace Corps work, or prior military experience in international destinations, contracting is an excellent way to improve your chances of landing a full-time job overseas with a government agency. If you’ve gained contracting expertise with USAID or have DAWAI certification through the government, tailor your resume to showcase your experiences to a specific vacancy announcement and make sure to include your specialized experience and how they will help you in your requested position.
4. Highlight Any Military Service or Deployment in the Desired Destination
If you’ve ever been a military member, you have what’s known as a Veterans’ preference. You’ll have a degree of preference in any federal job opportunity — especially if your service has taken you to the desired destination and have a combat campaign ribbon.
Veterans should highlight any military experience at their desired destination throughout their resume. Likewise, military spouses should include deployment to the destination as relevant context in their application. Veterans with preference land on top of the hiring pile and now military spouses also have spousal preference since new policies were introduced in the 3rd quarter of 2018.
5. Determine What Makes You Stand Out
You know how great a fit you are for the job — now’s the time to prove it. Ask yourself what makes you more qualified and a better fit to work in this area than your competitors, and use this information to inform your application. This could include situations such as when:
- You’ve extensively studied your desired destination
- You have personal connections to the area
- You have an acute understanding of the area’s local government and policies
- You’ve completed a long-term study abroad opportunity in the region
- You’ve already worked in the region or country
- You currently live abroad
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