5 easy hacks to address gaps in employment for travelers
You did it! You’ve just returned from a long term adventure and had the time of your life! It’s been awesome reuniting with all the people, places and foods you’ve missed. But reality is hitting hard, you’re probably broke and you need to find a job. So how are you going to address those gaps in employment? Some people start to panic before they even come home, others never leave in the first place for fear of ruining their career. Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of groundwork on this one and can offer you some helpful tips!
1) Be honest about your reason for gaps in employment
Don’t try to fake or fudge dates of employment on your resume or cover up gaps with fluff. Your travels made you more employable and most employers won’t see it as a blemish on your career. In fact, many employers recognize and appreciate the strengths developed in employees who have taken on world travel. We’ll help you sort out how to verbalize those strengths and where to use them.
2) Highlight skills gained while traveling
A common piece of advice for travelers is to use the skills that you gained while traveling such as negotiating or creating itineraries to beef up your resume. This is fairly good advice, especially if you have limited work experience, but you will need to carefully consider how to make this work for you.
If you are having a difficult time figuring out what skills you have gained while traveling you can glean some great results by making a chart like the one below. Start by writing down some of the things you accomplished during your travels in one column. Next to each accomplishment write down what skill(s) you used to achieve it. Then, write out a statement using that skill as it relates to the job you are applying for. We’ve given some examples (below):
Keep in mind that many these skills are commonly used. Therefore, the more evidence you can provide to back these up the better. Also make sure to only include those skills directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
3) Become more employable while traveling
The best way to add value to your resume is to improve your employability while you are traveling. If you are planning to travel again you could plan this out a bit and learn some new skills while you have the time off. If you have just returned and are currently writing your resume you may need to reflect back on your time away. You may have created some resume gold while keeping yourself occupied. Did you learn anything new? Did you take an online course related to your field or field of interest? Maybe you worked on a blog, learned about social media, SEO, and coding.
Did you pick up some freelance work, pet sit or volunteer? What fantastic ways to be productive and add valuable skills to your repertoire! These are all tangible skills that show accomplishments while off work, effectively narrowing the gap and showing that you did more than just lay on a beach…….although seriously is that wrong?
4) Choose the right format
The format you choose for your resume will either direct the focus onto your employment gap(s) or help to minimize them. If you opt for the standard chronological resume it will draw attention to any period of time without employment while a skills based or a combination (skills based with dates provided) resume will minimize the effects.
In a chronological resume one lists employment by job title, company name, and dates worked with a brief description of job duties (accomplishments). The dates of employment are included at the top of each job description and are therefore one of the first things noticed.
In a combination resume one lists skills first in sets or categories (e.g.- Administration, Customer Service, etc.) and then lists their work history. As skills and accomplishments occupy the primary space on this type of resume the dates of employment become less of a focus.
We’ve included a very simplified visual to show how the focus on dates of employment (in red) appears on each :
If you would like more info on resume formats try this site here (No affiliation, it just has good information)
There is no perfect resume. Whichever style you choose needs to reflect the skills and format that works best for your experience, the type of employment you are looking for, and the country in which you are applying. These can differ dramatically.
Some travelers include a section in their resume titled something like “Other Experiences” in which they list their travels and include the time frame and skills acquired. Personally, we don’t feel that our time spent traveling belongs on a resume and prefer to leave the gap in employment with an explanation in the cover letter. (Yes, all resumes should have a cover letter!)
The cover letter also provides another opportunity to mention skills gained while traveling if they are directly related to the position. Make sure your wording describes how your skills will contribute to the success of their business, not how they have helped you. Remember the cover letter is not a story about your life. It is a brief summary of your experience as it pertains to the job you are applying for.
5) Shine through on the interview
Hopefully, after writing a clear, concise, honest resume targeted specifically to the job with a cover letter briefly addressing travel gaps you will be afforded an opportunity for an interview. This will be the time in which they will most likely ask questions about your travels.
Think about how your travels have made you more employable. It is likely that they will find your experiences very interesting and ask some off topic questions about your adventures. Definitely answer all questions but try to stay on task. We can all talk endlessly about our travels and this enthusiasm will leave a good impression. However, staying professional and on topic will demonstrate that you can refrain from getting so wrapped up in discussing your favorite subject that the interview goes off the rails. It may also leave them wanting to hear more.
If you’ve addressed that gap in employment but you’ve caught the travel bug and are thinking of doing it again you might find these blog posts of ours interesting too:
Good luck! You got this!!!
Got any resume tips to share with everyone that have helped you gain employment after taking time off to travel? Have any specific questions related to finding employment or traveling? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. We’re always happy to help!
Also, if you like our content and think others would find it useful, please feel free to share it on Facebook and Twitter so that others can benefit and get on with living life to the fullest.
Ciao for now