Among the top questions I get asked by high school grads, university students or new professionals is: “How did you manage to travel so much the world and still build an incredible resume?” or “How are you travelling so much and keeping up with your work experience?”
I can’t provide a simple response, but part one of many, I will provide you with the response on how taking a break to travel is okay but most importantly how to make travel look good on your resume.
To travel or to work? Whilst some successfully combine both (more on that another time), I like to tell others that it is very much acceptable to take a semester or even year off school or work to travel.
Quotes about travel being like university aren’t coming out of anywhere. Depending on the travel path you will choose (not necessarily lounging in hotels and never getting out), you will be able to obtain many skills that other not-so-well-travelled competitions of yours have.
I understand you career go-getters that fear the fierce competition for the same jobs and refuse to have a gap in your resume. It’s easy to fall into the “I’ll travel later” trap in the thinking that a travel year gap might look bad for your future employers.
GOOD NEWS: It is most likely that Travel will boost your employability.
With Travel, you can explain the skills you’ve acquired from your journey to a potential employer and potentially stand out from another candidate with a similar professional resume than yours.
Here are Tips to make Travel look good for your CV
1) Travelling is always a good idea
When it comes down to finish your resume and add extra skills or information, you might be having second thoughts and being apprehensive about sharing your travel experiences.
Let me tell you what: DON’T BE!
Most companies and employers are quite positive to employ someone who has been travelling as it often translates into skillsets that sometimes can only be learned through travelling the world and experiencing things out of your comfort zone.
It will be important to use the tips below to make your international journey a positive and unique part of your resume. There is always the caveat that some employers, during the interview might be asking you why you no longer want to travel. It is a completely normal thing for them to do so as they will want security in knowing that you’re not planning on taking off all of the sudden. My advice is to have a good answer to this ready!
2) Relevancy: Make Travelling Relevant to the Specific Job
Flashing travel in your resume won’t make every recruiter understand that you’ve gained skills. You need to match the skills with the specific job you are applying to.
In other words, for travel to shine and be an added value to your resume, you must make sure that the experiences and skills acquired during travel will have a direct impact with the position you are aiming to get. Relevance to the job is crucial.
Scan carefully through the Job Description to identify skills that could be matched with the experience you’ve gained whilst abroad. Get to know the company better if any of their values and brand truths match any of your travel stories or takeaways.
For example, if you are applying for a job in sales, they might be looking for a candidate with strong communication and negotiation skills. Independent decision making, patience, etc.
If you really don’t feel travel can be used for a specific JD you are applying for, you can put it in the additional information of your resume as opposed to the main section since the travel experience won’t be of direct impact to fill the position.
3) Experience: Feature a Professional Story
A resume is like a marketing campaign of yourself, hence it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plan the objectives of your CV then adding some creativity to it to woo your future employer.
How to plan? Think of the type of information you want to share with your employer and the way you want to share it. As it is for a job, after all, you shall produce a professional story.
Making sure that your travel experience is told in a professional way is key since it isn’t exactly working experience (unless you do work and travel but, again, that’s another topic). What do I mean by that? I mean that you should find ways to share the information as professional as possible, and use that globe-trotting experience to demonstrate situations, actions and results.
In a nutshell, make sure you include any relevant volunteering or work during the travel journey on your resume (even if it was an unpaid work exchange). Take a good habit to ask your manager to write you a reference before you part ways with that person.
Here’s an example:
- 6 months traveling to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, from January 2019 to June 2019.
- Activities included volunteer work at [somewhere] with [association or someone] teaching [skill] to [someone]. Results are [something].
- Documented and directed a series of video episodes teaching others about [skills].
That was just an example, don’t worry if you don’t fit the exact mould. I won’t give you more examples because this is the beauty of your resume, it’s your own challenge to create a successful “marketing campaign” about yourself to get the job!
4) Make sure to differentiate Hard and Soft Skills
There are different types of skills:
- Hard skills are teachable abilities, for example, acquiring a new language. All the hard skills are absolutely pluses in your “self-marketing campaign”.
- Soft skills are more subjective interpersonal skills just like leadership, communications, etc. They sure are important skills but they’re not quite quantifiable. Don’t be shy to mention them in your CV but do it with care as you don’t want to make travel come across as a filling in the resume.
Many studies have shown that employers do consider a gap year travelling in a resume to be a positive point in a candidate due to the hard and soft skills that can be acquire during such experience.
No go on, work on that resume and go grab that job!
Let us all know in the comment section below on how travelling has impacted your job application, interview or is actually helping you during your current job! Are you an Employer, a Manager, an HR person … EVEN BETTER, share your thoughts on why you value travel experiences from your candidates.