Travel Your Way to Your Dream Job
Want to travel during your gap year? or get work experience abroad? Here's some top tips to travel your way to your dream job
What’s the difference between travelling and a holiday? To some employers, the answer is none. They imagine that your weeks, months or even year of travelling were just a jolly sight-seeing jaunt or a kaleidoscopic smear of hedonism and photographic evidence that would make your mother cry.
And while some employers do see the legitimate benefit of having international experience on your CV, it’s up to you to position your employment gaps as actual sources of useful, transferable and desirable skills.
So, how do you do it? And how can you make sure you collect the right experiences along the way? Separate work from experiences First, it’s crucial to understand how talk about travel on your CV. Don’t lie on your CV and try to suggest that three months trekking Australia was work experience. If it wasn’t a job, it wasn’t work experience and an employer will spot that a mile off.
Instead, separate work experiences – whether you were working at bar, at a nature park as a ranger or on a construction site – from life experiences. For each, think deeply on what you learned from each one and how you could illustrate that in a conversation. You won’t score points for snuggling koalas but if you’ve managed scarce resources through a difficult environment, you’re probably one step ahead in analytical thought and logistics than your peers.
GET THE RIGHT EXPERIENCES
Talking about the work side is more obvious but it’s not always easy as a traveller to secure a decent job, which is where paid opportunities come in. This can be a tricky spot with employers because, though you may have had the discipline of a work experience, you bought your way in rather than being selected.
However, these experiences can provide far greater life lessons and work skills than pulling pints on a beach – and it’s up to you to market these. For example, if you take a placement at a camp in America, you could be involved in anything from being a counsellor, to running the back office, to organising games, trips and fun learning experiences for your campers.
Across this, you can easily learn valuable skills that employers need: empathy and emotional intelligence; communications skills including new languages and non-verbal communication; the ability to integrate into new groups quickly; how to understand different people’s strengths and weakness and help them achieve their goals (and have a good time).
In other words – a lot of the same skills as a good manager, internal communicator or HR officer.
In fact, the soft skills you can gain from travelling are the kind that are much harder to learn – and prove – than the technical skills a job may require. When an interviewer asks you how you’ve handled a difficult situation, you’ll have a much better (and more interesting) answer than someone’s whose last conflict was returning a top at Primark.
Professional qualifications are a big commitment from a potential employee and show that you’re serious about the industry you’re trying to enter. While work experience abroad can prepare you for the workplace, you can also turn any expedition into a professional leaning opportunity.
Sticking with the HR theme, we’ve seen that a camp experience could give you a lot of the skills for a foundational HR role – as could any number of team-based volunteer projects. If that was a work area you were interested in, you could cement that with a professional qualification. For HR, that’s a CIPD.
Many of these are modular or level-based so you could start with one of the many CIPD Courses in the UK and then carry out modules online, while travelling, or even in local facilities to maintain your studies. The same is true for any of the other globally recognised qualification like the CIM (for marketing) or ACCA (for accounting).
However you decide to weave employer-friendly skills into your travels, it’s important that you always take stock of what you’re doing and learning. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to get caught up and not realise how valuable each experience is. When an employer asks you about your travels, you don’t want to tell them you had a great time; you want to show them how it’s formed you into the complete, hireable package sitting in front of them.
As you go through your travels, keep a diary or blog to capture the key stories and reflect on what you learned. This is a perfect way to create a lasting record of adventures as well as an array of interesting, colourful and relevant stories for that dream job. Now it’s just time to pack your bag!
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Disclaimer: Complimentary article written by ThoughtShift