Traveling the world gives you unparalleled life experience. Whether you’ve been bumming it on a beach in Thailand or working in an Indian orphanage, you’ve probably experienced culture shock, discomfort and challenges as well as some incredible rewards.
But how to relate these experiences to potential employers? Employers want to see that if you don’t have bags of practical experience in a similar role, that you have the transferable skills, the ambition and the drive to fulfil the role without it. Traveling gives you loads of skills and some great anecdotes for an interview but it’s important to filter these experiences and present them well on your resume.
A good resume design makes talking about your travel in a professional way much easier. Whether you’ve worked, volunteered or just had some serious fun during your time out, your experiences can be divided between the following resume subheadings:
If you worked while you travelled, include this in your work history. Working at a hostel, teaching English as a foreign language or working in a bar or restaurant won’t necessarily relate to the job you’re now applying for. However, chances are you’ve negotiated work permits and language barriers and demonstrated a fair bit of initiative and drive, skills that can certainly be transferred to a new workplace. Describe your job accurately and succinctly and don’t be tempted to make something of nothing; if you didn’t work while traveling, talk up your experiences elsewhere on your resume rather than making up a job title.
Volunteer work, particularly if you volunteered for a few months or more, can be included in your work history. However, if you volunteered for a shorter period of time, include it in an “Other Experience” section of your resume.
Talk about where you worked, what you achieved and the skills you developed. Remember to think from the perspective of a potential employer. Whilst you may now be a dab hand at woodwork or feeding elephants, this probably isn’t particularly relevant. Translate your experience into transferable skills. Did you break up a fight between two school children? That’s problem solving and negotiation. Did you discuss a project with your manager despite a language barrier? That shows communication skills.
If you wrote a blog, created a photography portfolio or studied a language while you travelled, this section is a good place to write about it. Having evidence of purposeful travel shows you took your trip seriously as a method of self-development and that you had some direction and ambition, even while soaking up the rays on an Australian beach!
When you’re just out of education, your resume is understandably lacking in work history. If this is the case, a skills section is a great way to highlight your abilities. Budgeting, planning, problem-solving, adaptability, negotiation and communication are all skills that tick boxes for employers.
You should list any work-relevant skills and give a few examples of when you have demonstrated them. Traveling gives you an impressive selection of examples to choose from; changing your route plans after a bus strike shows adaptability, using a spreadsheet to manage your money demonstrates budgeting skills, and haggling at the market shows negotiation.
Having travelled to far-flung destinations, you’re probably a better rounded and more open-minded person. You’re probably able to see things from a new perspective and have surprised yourself with your versatility and initiative. Good employers will spot the benefits you can bring to their organisations. You just have to present yourself and your travels in the right way (and keep those snaps of the Full Moon Party at home).
Will Norquay is an experienced business traveller who enjoys discovering new places all around the world and sharing his thoughts and opinions about them on Stayz. Stayz is Australia’s #1 holiday rental website.