Will your gap year or career break affect your chances of landing a job? What will recruiters and hiring managers think about the gap in your CV? Have you fallen behind?
It’s easy to let these thoughts spiral out of control. But guess what? If you’re savvy, you can actually use your travel experience and the skills you’ve picked up along the way as an advantage in your job hunt.
Here’s how to present travel on your CV and get yourself back on the career ladder:
Honesty is the best policy
Whatever you do, don’t attempt to hide your travelling gap year or career break in your CV - it just won’t work! Ignoring a gap will just draw more attention to it, meaning recruiters will either ignore your CV completely or ask for an outright explanation.
Don’t even think about creating an imaginary job or claiming you freelanced full-time during the gap. With no reference and no portfolio, you’re sure to be caught out later down the line.
If you worked or volunteered for the majority of your time abroad, you can list your travelling under the ‘work experience’ section of your CV. If not, create a new section such as ‘other experiences’ and focus on the skills, languages and confidence you gained on your travels. Let’s take a closer look:
Focus on volunteering
If you volunteered for the majority of your time travelling, you can list it under the work experience section of your CV. As well as demonstrating your desire to help others and confidence working with different cultures and languages, you’ll probably have picked up some tangible skills.
Make sure to focus on the results of your efforts and skills gained. Did you build a house? Teach a child to speak English and help them pass an exam? Lead a team? Co-ordinate a project? It’s all valuable experience.
Include any short or long-term employment
For the most part, travellers require funds to get them through a long stint abroad. And whether it was teaching English as a foreign language or working at a hostel, any kind of employment during your travels shows good work-ethic and is worth including in your CV.
While the jobs may be unrelated to the roles you’re applying to now, you can still pick out transferable skills. Teaching experience speaks for itself, but even if you undertook low-paid customer-facing work, communication and customer service skills are valuable in almost any role.
Highlight transferable skills
Maybe you just took a year out and explored the world with nothing but a backpack? If this is the case, you’ll need to focus on the transferable soft skills you gained during your travels. Travelling alone in a foreign country, away from your entire support network, shows resilience, confidence, adaptability leadership and determination.
Were you faced with any difficult situations whilst abroad? What skills did you use to overcome them? Using travel stories to demonstrate your soft skills could make you a memorable and interesting candidate.
Another valuable skill is languages - and if you were away for some time, you’re bound to have picked some up! Even if you’re not fluent, you can list a language as ‘proficient’ or ‘intermediate’.
Many people think of their travels as just a fun hobby, but if you look a little deeper, there a number of ways that it can improve your CV.
Show off creative projects
Did you take some amazing photography, write a blog or build a social media community during your travels? It might be worth mentioning - especially if you’ve picked up some digital skills such as SEO, marketing, analytics and coding.
If you do decide to talk about creative projects under your ‘other experiences’ section, just make sure to quantify them. For example, how much traffic does your blog get each month? Have publications or organisations utilized your photography? Impressive facts and figures like this could help your CV stand out from the crowd.
You don’t need to hide your travelling from your CV - in fact, you should embrace it! By framing your experiences in the right light, picking out transferable skills and focusing on volunteering or work experience, travelling might actually help you find a job.
Andrew Fennell is a former London recruiter and founder of StandOut CV, one of the UKs largest CV and job search advice websites.
Feb 21, 2019 by Guest Blogger
For someone who loves to travel and is constantly looking for opportunities, this was definitely worth the read!
posted 2 months ago by Hridya
Thank you for reminding me that my time abroad can be valuable for my next employer.
posted 6 months ago by Iris