A long weekend away ? A study or work period abroad ? A stint around the world ? Whatever the nature of your travels, mentioning particular trips abroad may add gold dust to job applications. With the business world more globally interdependant and diverse today than ever before, employers hunt for staff that not only add these elements to their workforce, but have an international mindset.
So just what exactly intrigues employers about your experiences abroad ? The skills used in planning and executing the trip, as well as the exposure you get whilst out there, are what make you a particular candidate. Travelling serves as an opportunity to develop skills that make you more employable ; here are five main traits - achievable through travel - which are desirable for employers when hiring graduates.
1. Global awareness
Reading about another country and their culture does not compare to a first-hand experience. Involvement in a foreign culture separates you from others who have only ever experienced life at home. Your exposure to different ways of life and traditions endow you with global awareness whether you realise it or not. Subconsciously, someone who has travelled is more likely to be open to new experiences and ways of life, than someone who can only identify with their domestic culture. It is of particular interest to companies with branches around the world, that employees are comfortable being plunged into different cultures for both internal and external communication reasons.
Travelling allows you to meet people from different walks of life and interacting with them demonstrates your ability to communicate with various types of characters, which is beneficial to companies with a diverse target audience or wide array of clients. If you cannot speak the local language, your reliance on vocal intonation and body language are proven to sharpen your overall communication skills as you become more sensitive to how you project and receive information, which is imperative in understanding how to deliver strong presentations.
Whilst you don’t need to travel to learn a language, fluency in multiple languages is mostly obtained by those who have a different mother tongue to the spoken language where they now live, or those who have spent long amounts of time in another country. Colloquialisms, phrases, sayings and idioms, these are all picked up when staying for an extensive period abroad. More and more organisations desire candidates who will facilitate their expansion with their ability to confidently speak another language.
From transportation, to itinerary and schedules, organisation is a key part in planning a trip. Prioritising activities, leaving enough time to sort things out, applying for correct documentation, getting vaccinations for diseases, all require being responsible and highly organised ; an indispensable skill in any career field. Moreover managing a financial budget and accurately forecasting expenses is a worthwhile skill to employers (particularly pertaining to roles in finance or project management).
Getting out of your comfort zone of home and exploring somewhere new says something about you as a person. You are open-minded, accepting of challenges and adaptive to new environments. This makes you a viable candidate for working environments involving a lot of face-to-face interaction, establishing relationships and discovering new markets or business opportunities. One thing all those who travel have in common, is a curiosity to discover that which is unknown to them.
Now whilst you may be prepared to dress up your boozy holiday as a cultural experience, employers cannot be fooled – there is a monumental difference between travel and holidaying. According to a USA Today article, it is the ‘immersion in a different culture’ and ‘overcoming adversity and making connections’ that differentiate poolside lounging and tanning sessions from genuine cultural integration.
That said, don’t overlook worthwhile travel that you have done in the past, it is valuable and relevant to your career prospects.