One of the worries some people have before they go travelling is how they are going to explain the gap in their employment on their CV. There is this misconstrued idea that employers are going to look down upon taking a year out as they will think you just bummed around the world and went to beach parties (which let’s face it, you might), or that you’re not as committed to your career as other candidates if you’ve taken a break.
Well I’m here to tell you that’s total BS. Employers LOVE travel on your CV.
And I speak as a Manager that has sifted through loads of boring CVs. They’re all the same, and those that have something different on them, something exciting, are the ones that I offer interviews to. The thing is, it’s all about the way you show your travels on your CV.
First of all, you should be focussing on the skills you have developed as a result of travelling. Well first of all, there are the personal development areas that travelling improves:
And if that isn’t awesome enough, there are also professional skills you develop whilst backpacking, that you should be sure to include in your CV. Here’s a few examples:
- Interpersonal Skills
- Networking Abilities
- Organisational Skills
- Using the Initiative
And that’s just the generic professional skills. If you think about the skills you need for your specific career I’m sure you can come up with a few more.
If you’ve volunteered on your trip, be sure to add this to your CV. If it was for a couple of months or more, I would even add this as an entire entry in your employment history. After all, it adds a whole new side to your profile, on top of the impressive skills you’ve already acquired from travelling. It shows you’re a team player, you have leadership skills and you can communicate. It also shows that you’re, you know, a nice human being. Good moral compass and all that.
If you’ve done a working holiday, there are two ways you are likely to refer to it on your CV. If you went to another country to purposely gain experience towards your career, you will probably have had one or two jobs to add to your CV that are totally relevant and should be under your Employment History section as you would add any job. Although make sure you mention the location as it makes it a lot more impressive!
Or if you’re anything like me, you did a variety of weird and wonderful jobs to fund your travels! This option normally means it’s not entirely applicable to talk about the different jobs you did. I don’t think my stint as an Onion Cutter in the outback or a Waitress in a Brisbane cafe are going to aid my Fashion career. So I opt for a generic ‘Various Casual Jobs In Australia’ entry with a brief explanation of what and where. Although I omitted the above examples and stuck to the admin roles that showed more relevance.
Another point to add here is that I am always asked questioned about my travels at interviews. Below are a few examples of questions I am asked, so make sure you prep answers before you go!
- What made you decide to go travelling?
- What are your most proud of from your travels?
- How have your travels developed your skills profile? (See above!)
- How do you think your travels can be advantageous to you in this role? (See above but match it up to the job description)
- Do you have any future travel plans?
Be wary that the last question is a test to see how likely you are to be a flight risk! Put their mind at rest and say you’re looking to be more settled now and focus on progressing your career. Even if you’re not.
So that’s my advice kids, focus on promoting the skills you’ve acquired from your travels and be prepared to answer questions about it! So you have no excuse not to go. In fact you have more reason to go. It will be advantageous to your career. Now what are you waiting for?
What do you think? Do you worry about travel affecting your career? Do you put your travels on your CV? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!