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Return Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), upon successful completion of their service, are told that they have “non-competitive eligibility� for federal jobs. Yet when they apply for these federal jobs, this eligibility is often not recognized. So what is this non-competitive eligibility, and how do RPCVs take advantage of it?

The term “non-competitive eligibility� is a blanket term for any applicant to the federal service who does not have to “compete� with other people through the governments two main hiring systems: Delegated Exam (for all people) and the Merit Promotion System (for federal employees). Applying to these two systems involves extensive question and answer sections to assess the applicant’s experience in certain situations that are essential to the open position.

However, RPCVs, depending upon their circumstances, are covered by a special hiring authority (or hiring flexibility) for one to three years after their close of service. This means that they can circumvent the whole competitive process and be eligible to be brought on directly into a position. Unfortunately, many government officials are unaware of this hiring flexibility. While they are not obligated to use it when they fill a position, taking advantage of the flexibility allows the officials more choice in who they hire and can save them a lot of time.

In order for an RPCV to take advantage of this flexibility, he/she should follow the steps below:

Apply for positions of interest

Even though RPCVs are eligible for federal positions under a special hiring authority, they are also eligible for and should apply to positions through Delegated Exam. Doing so will allow them to demonstrate their qualities in the question and answer sections and may also give them an option to show their non-competitive eligibility.

Target the agencies in which to work

The RPCV should speak with a recruiter and attend job fairs held by the government agencies in which he/she would like to work. He/she should make sure to inform recruiters and specialists about the Peace Corps hiring flexibility and how easy it would be to hire someone under it.

Include all necessary information on a resume

In order to develop a government résumé complete with all the information selecting officials are looking for, it is best to create it on the USAJOBS website. RPCV job seekers should make sure to include the paragraph from their description of service about the Peace Corps Act and put in a conspicuous place that because of their Peace Corps service, they have non-competitive eligibility through the Peace Corps Act.

Keep a copy of the regulation and site it

When speaking to recruiters, RPCVs should be sure to reference the actual regulation that entitles them to non-competitive eligibility. They should print out a copy to hand to recruiters as well. This can be found in Title 5, Section 315 Subsection 605 of the Code of Federal Regulations (it should be referenced as 5CFR315.605 and can be found here. (pdf)Finally, recruiters and hiring officials should be referred to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Guide to Processing Personnel Actions, Chapter 9, Table 9-3, Rule 40-43.

The job seeker need not worry about what all the regulations mean, but just know that they exist so that he/she may aid HR Specialists in their research to expedite the research and hiring time.

RPCVs are very lucky to have a government special hiring authority available to them. Through the proper steps, they can use that authority to their advantage to begin an exciting career with the federal government.

2 Responses to “RPCVs and Non-Competitive Eligibility”

  1. Rob

    Thanks a lot for this information, I knew that this sounded too good to be true, this will make a huge difference in my decision to ET two weeks early or stay another two weeks and miss my best friends wedding…Kudos my friend.


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