You’ve just had an awesome year away and you loved it. The problem is, you’ve got 20 dollars left in your pocket, you’re sleeping on your sister’s couch and you don’t have a job. What’s worse, that gap where you went exploring the world doesn’t look so good on your resume.
Or does it?
You can actually make it look quite spectacular, if you know how to play it right. After all, the world is interconnected and people are always looking for candidates with global experience to hire. You’ve just got to play it right, that’s all.
Don’t put everything on your resume
First of all, you might be tempted to put everything you’ve experienced and learned on your resume. Don’t. Soft skills are great and they’re fantastically important. If you put them straight into your resume, however, then it just looks like you’re trying to create filler.
Besides, the way resumes are written has changed. It used to be that everything went on there. You flipped burgers for 2 weeks five years ago? Yup, that went on there. No longer, however. People don’t have time for that. They expect to get the gist of what you’ve been doing in about 5 seconds.
Yup, that’s right, that’s less time than you take on a menu.
So where do you put it?
On your cover letter. That’s where you get to explain how what you’ve done has shaped you. Here you can explore why you went away, what you learned and (most importantly) why this will help the company you’re applying for.
This is also where you throw up the soft skills – how you came to understand other cultures, make friends and everything else that you learned.
Really want to impress them? Then do it in as few words as possible. Don’t waffle on. Instead, become the master of saying what you’re trying to say in as few words as possible. The reason you want to do this is because if you can say the same thing using less words, then it will appear even punchier.
Focus on what makes you desirable
Did you spend three weeks off year head on mushrooms on a Thai beach somewhere? That’s great. I hope it didn’t take too long to find your way back to reality. You might not want to put that on your resume, however.
Instead, put how you helped out at an orphanage, how you ran a diving school, or how those three months that you taught English as a school. There you actually learned things that a company can use.
Don’t put ‘I’m very good with people’ either. That makes you sound like a dolt. Instead, put it in words that a company can appreciate. Call it, ‘people management’, ‘negotiation’, or ‘conflict resolution’. That’s the kind of skills that a company needs.
One thing to note, yes they’re going to struggle to get in touch with that shaman in the jungle who taught you Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. That doesn’t mean you can right out lie, however. If you do that, chances are they will figure it out when you can’t do everything you claim you can.
And you’d be surprised how often that kind of stuff can come back to haunt you.
So what can I talk about?
Okay, so far so good. So what kind of things did you actually learn from your travels? Well, here are a couple of good ones to consider:
- Adaptability – if you managed to travel all over the world, hang out with different people in different cultures, find a roof over your head and learn a few things besides then you’re adaptable. Businesses always like people that are flexible. So that can go on there.
- Self-reliant – companies want employees who, when they see a problem, don’t call the boss and ask what they should do, but rely on their own ingenuity to get out. Now it so happens that if you traveled on your own you didn’t have a boss and you had to rely on yourself to fix every problem that came along, so you’ve got that covered.
- Planning – if you managed to arrange all of your trip on your own, then that took some planning. That’s a skill that companies need. They don’t want people to operate by the seat of their pants. They want people who can see problems on the horizon and deal with them. It so happens that you probably became pretty good at that.
- Negotiation – were you the person responsible for handling the taxi drivers, the hotel owners and the trip organizers and talking them down from their ludicrous prices to something slightly more manageable? Well, then you learned the skill of negotiation. That’s important for a company too, both when they talk with customers as well as internally.
Okay, so how do I do that?
Okay, so now you’ve got what you want to put on there. How do you actually build the resume? Admittedly, that can be quite intimidating. Fortunately, there are tons of services out there nowadays that can help you.
Here are some of the better ones:
- Cover Letter Builder: Cover letters follow a specific formula, which you should follow to the best of your ability. To that end, use something like live career’s cover letter builder to help you out. You’ll both learn the ropes and get a great cover letter to boot.
- Resume templates: The best thing you can do is select a resume template and fill everything in. This is because quite a lot of companies use computers now and if you don’t follow some of the better known templates, then those computers won’t know what to make of your text.
- CV maker: In fact, there are actual resume makers online, if that’s what you prefer. Just fill in your details and it will put together the resume for you. Then you can send it off to whoever you want.
- ProCustomWriting: These guys will help make your resume professional for a fee. Sure, you might have to borrow some money from your sister for that, but as it will get you working and out of her hair all the sooner, she might just be willing to do that.
- Job application manager While you’re at it, you’ll need some kind of tool to know where you sent what and how long ago that was. For that, download this useful job application manager. It will make all that far easier to keep track of.
— Zigverve.com (@zigverve) March 7, 2017
Your time abroad can easily be turned into an asset. All you’ve got to do is put it in the right words, put it in the right place and make sure that you apply to a company that can appreciate that kind of thing.
And remember, just like out there, not everything has to go right for you to have an amazing experience. So, start today and take the possible rejections in stride. Sooner or later somebody will offer you a job and then all those rejections won’t matter one whit anyway.
Good luck and good applying.
Also Read: 7 Ways to Be Happy With What You Have