Many long-term travellers know the feeling: you’ve just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip, funds are low, and now you’re faced with job applications.
Or perhaps you’re longing to take an extended trip, but are worried that it will leave too much of a gap in your resume when you return. Well, you’re certainly not alone. Most returning travellers have to tackle this big question when applying for their first job after a trip; how do I make travel look good on my resume?
Although it can be tricky, if presented in the right way, travel can certainly enhance your resume.
Below are 5 ways to make travel look good on your resume, here are a few ground rules.
Which information should you share?
As with all information on a resume, remember to always keep it relevant. Your previous work as a singer on a cruise ship might be of interest if you’re applying for an entertainment job, but less so for a banking internship. Make sure to only include experiences that are beneficial for the role you’re applying for.
How should you present your travel experience?
Keep it professional and use your travel experience to demonstrate situations, actions and results. That way you will be able to emphasise the value of each experience.
Where should you place travel information?
It really depends on how relevant your experience was and how much other work or volunteering experience you have. You can either place the information with work experience at the beginning, or with additional information at the end.
Now let’s talk about which travel experiences will make your resume stand out from the crowd:
As at home, volunteering experiences abroad are valued highly by most employers. Volunteering shows your commitment to learning about other cultures and giving back to local communities. Depending on your interests, there are many opportunities, ranging from animal care to humanitarian relief. Always include the country, how long you volunteered for, your responsibilities, and any tangible goals you achieved, such as building a village library or cleaning up after an earthquake.
If you’ve travelled outside of English speaking countries, you might have taken a language course or visited a language school. The ability to speak a second (or third) language is always valued by employers, so even if you’re not fluent in your new language, you should definitely mention it on your resume.
Let your employer know how you learnt the language; did you take an immersive course, stay with a local host family, or pick up the basics chatting to locals? Make sure you include your level of proficiency, and whether you can read and write the language as well, to avoid any potentially awkward situations in the future.
Many long-term travellers end up with funds running low and have to find work on the road. Popular jobs, like working at a hostel reception, teaching English as a foreign language, or working as an au pair, should definitely be included on your resume, as they are directly transferable, especially to customer service or teaching jobs.
Remember that unpaid work exchanges also count as work experience if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Always include the name of your employer, your role and the time spent in the role. You could also ask your boss to write you a reference before you leave the job.
Blogging or photography
While it’s certainly not a must, many long-term travellers decide to write a travel blog to capture their memories and keep friends and family at home up-to-date. Blogging can teach you a whole host of new skills, including writing, social media marketing, web design and photography, all of which are highly sought after.
Make sure you keep your blog professional to a certain extent; don’t write about your crazy times at the last full-moon party if you intend to include it in your CV.
Finally, don’t forget to mention the soft skills that travelling has taught you. Remember that chicken bus ride where the driver took you to the wrong town and you had to organise a last minute replacement to get you to the harbour the next day to catch a boat? Staying cool and calm in this type of situation teaches you adaptability and flexibility, highly useful skills in todays’ fast-paced business world.
Did you plan a 6-week tour through South East Asia with new friends, book connecting flights, buses, trains and boats between multiple countries, and all the while staying on a tight budget? That certainly demonstrates your organisational and budgeting skills, and that you know how to work and communicate well in a team of people with different backgrounds.
As you can see, travel not only looks good on your resume, but can even make it stand out from the crowd. Have you ever worked or volunteered abroad? Please share in the comments.
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