How to Use Travel to Your Advantage on Your Graduate CV
Once university finishes and graduation celebrations come to an end, you might be thinking to take a year out to travel the world. But, how are you meant to account for a whole year or more out of education and full-time work on your CV?
Thankfully, it could actually work in your favour – it might just boost your employability. Leaving your comfort zone, traveling the world, volunteering abroad and experiencing new situations are sure to make you stand out in a saturated graduate market.
Here’s how to use travel to your advantage on your graduate CV:
Don’t try to hide it
Acknowledging your time traveling is highly unlikely to harm your chance of job application success. On the other hand, lying about it or leaving a whole year unexplained definitely could!
So, what’s the best way to incorporate travel into your CV structure. If you worked full-time whilst traveling, you merely need to include the work in your experience section as you would with any other job. This way, your time abroad is counted as tangible work experience.
But what if you didn’t work much whilst you were away? Make backpacking look more professional by listing it in an additional CV section, underneath your work and education sections, titled ‘other experience’ or ‘international experience’. Here, you should include an overview of your time away, skills you picked up whilst traveling and notable achievements from your trip.
Draw attention to relevant experience
Whether you freelanced online to make ends meet, taught English at a language center or simply worked at a hostel, you’re bound to have picked up some work experience. But when listing these odd-jobs on your CV, it’s essential to pick out some of the transferable skills and achievements gained from your travel jobs that actually relate to the role you’re applying for.
For example, if you helped a hostel run their social media accounts and you’re now applying for a marketing role, note it down and include the results of your efforts, for example, a % increase in online bookings. If you worked in customer service and are now applying for a client-facing role, include an example of a time when you diffused a sticky situation or went out of your way to help a customer.
Volunteering is well-worth including, too - it demonstrates that you used your time abroad to develop both personally and professionally. Whether you spent two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in India or helped out at a New York summer camp for an entire season, make sure to list the role - including your responsibilities and achievements - under your work experience section.
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: QUESTIONS EVERY FIRST TIME STUDY ABROAD STUDENT HAS
Highlight your new-found skills
Even if you didn’t work or volunteer while you were away, you’re likely to have picked up some valuable transferable skills. Whilst writing your post-trip graduate CV, pick which skills are most relevant to the role you’re applying for and list them, along with examples, as part of bullet-pointed list in your ‘other/international experience’ section.
“Developed strong financial planning skills by financing, budgeting and forward-planning a trip around the world. This involved the use of Excel spreadsheets and recording expenses daily.”
“Launched a personal travel blog which attracted 1,000 monthly visitors and developed strong content writing and SEO knowledge.”
“Significantly boosted communication skills by integrating into different cultures around the world. Learnt both non-verbal and verbal communication to surpass language barriers.”
Detail your language skills
If you picked up new languages during your year abroad, it’s essential to include them in your graduate CV. Most employers value second languages, even at a conversational level. This skill can help you stand out from other candidates and can significantly boost your job prospects.
Add your new language skills under your ‘other experience’ section, detailing your proficiency. With one-week courses at Kaplan, you can walk into one our English schools and start the next Monday. This can be a great way to spend one or more weeks abroad, helping you brush up on your English-language skills.
Don’t hide travel from your graduate CV. By linking your interesting life experience, transferable skills and unique experiences to the job, you can actually use it to boost your employability.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV - he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.