6 Reasons that travel can make you more employable
Final exams are coming to an end – or have already ended if you’re lucky enough! – and so many of you may be wondering “what shall I do with my newfound freedom?”
Travelling and seeing a new part of the world can be a great next step, whether that means embarking on an internship abroad, working or volunteering with an international organisation or just sight-seeing!
“But what about the employment gap in my CV?” Having ‘time off’ from further education or professional employment worries many people and this is understandable, taking a diversion from your chosen career path is scary! However, what many people fail to understand is that regardless of the career you’d love or the industry want to break into, travel can provide invaluable experience and opportunities to develop new and existing skillsets that can actually make you more employable than those who stay at home.
Read on for 6 reasons why travel can enhance your employability.
You’ve managed your finances, you’ve planned what you’ll be doing and you’ve got yourself from A to B… and survived! Not only do you need some serious organisational skills for this but clearly you’ve gained some independence! Employers appreciate someone who can demonstrate independence and self-reliance; they want someone who can take responsibility for themselves and manage their own workload. Taking the plunge and going abroad to work/volunteer/study proves that you haven’t just gone through the motions of education and employment, but taken the initiative to pursue your own interests!
2. Confidence and Interpersonal Skills
It goes without saying, if you go abroad it’s likely that you’re going to meet a LOT of new people. Even if you’re shy to begin with, being frequently exposed to new people, in new situations whilst abroad is going to really enhance your interpersonal skills and you’re guaranteed to come back with more confidence. These skills are essential for winning over potential employers. After bonding with a range of people from all different walks of life, cultures and nationalities, talking about yourself in an hour-long interview back home will be a doddle!
3. Cultural Awareness
You may be surprised how often this one comes up in job applications! Many, if not most organisations now operate on an international scale. Employers want to take on people who are sensitive to different cultures and ways of life, people who can see things from another’s perspective, regardless of their origin or background. What better way to prove this than being immersed in another culture in its place of origin? Imagine being able to say “I lived and worked in Kigali amongst survivors of the Rwandan Genocide” when an interviewer asks if you are ‘culturally aware’. The stories you share can really make you stand out from the crowd!
4. Learning a language
Travel is a great opportunity to not only learn a new language, but to also put it into practice. Being able to demonstrate to employers that you’ve learnt another language not only shows commitment but also that you can communicate with a wider network of people, a skill that can really set you apart from other candidates in a crowded job market. Why not head to South America and perfect your Spanish whilst caring for rescued monkeys? Or top up your GCSE French in one of the many Francophone countries in Africa? Don’t worry though, you’re not expected to come back from your month in Malawi fluent in Chichewa: learning the basics and communicating with the locals as best you can is enough to prove that you have the communication skills most employers are after.
Regardless of how organised you are, it is inevitable that things won’t always go to plan when travelling! Your adaptability and resourcefulness in how you deal with these setbacks provides proof of your problem solving skills and ability to cope with challenging situations, both very attractive abilities to have when returning home and applying for jobs. Thinking outside the box is an excellent skill which employers really do value. Plus, if nothing else, these stressful situations faced when travelling make the basis for great self-motivating pep-talks: “If I got through navigating South America with no Spanish* and no money, I can get through this 20 minute presentation!”
*See reason 5 and learn that language!
Volunteering whilst travelling demonstrates to employers that you weren’t just looking for a good time on your travels, but that you’re hard-working, committed, and that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and really get stuck in to a task. All these are traits that can really set you apart from other applicants in a competitive field. If you’re thinking of volunteering abroad have a look at our previous article ‘5 questions to ask when choosing a volunteering programme abroad’ to help you make the right decision.
These are just a few of many reasons why travel can make you more employable but it’s not just about impressing potential employers. Whether it’s for a couple of weeks, a month or a year, travelling abroad and taking the plunge into an unknown culture is an amazing experience that can really give you confidence in your own abilities and totally change your perspective on your current way of life.
If you can think of any additional reasons why travel can make you more (or less) employable we’d love to hear, join the discussion in the comments section below.
You may also be interested in…