By including your travel experience on your resume, you can show employers that you are multi-faceted and have the skills and experience they are looking for.
When writing your resume, you know to focus on the important stuff: your experience, your best skills, how well you meet the qualifications of the job you want. And while in some cases that can be enough to at least get you invited for an interview, when a recruiter receives dozens of resumes for the same position, a resume that isn’t like everyone else’s is necessary to get you noticed.
If you are looking for that elusive “something” that can get your resume to the top of the pile, consider adding your travel experience. Now, employers aren’t likely to be impressed—or even interested—in your rum-soaked beach vacations or the class trip to Disneyland, but meaningful travel can pique their interest and provide more insight into who you are, your values, and the soft skills you bring to the table.
The Benefits of Including Travel
So what makes travel meaningful, and what does it add to your resume?
“Meaningful” travel is anything that provides you with an experience that expands your mind, changes your perspective, or gives you new skills. Including this type of travel (and it can be both domestic and foreign) can accomplish a number of things on your resume.
If you traveled between jobs, let employers know. An employment gap without any explanation is much worse for your image than saying that you spent several months in Asia or explored National Parks. Not only does the employer learn more about you as a person, but you have evidence of how you spent your time.
A growing number of people are working while traveling, giving them a chance to experience a new place more fully, while also paying the bills. Include the work you did overseas in your work experience, highlighting anything that is especially relevant. For instance, if you lived overseas and taught English while pursuing your masters in TESOL online, that experience will give your teaching applications a boost.
Did you volunteer while you traveled? Have you blogged about your adventures? Did you improve your photography skills? Think about everything you did while you traveled and how it translated into new skills and experiences that you might use on the job.
Highlight soft skills.
Communication. Negotiation. Budgeting. Planning. Dealing with crises. No, these aren’t just skills required in the boardroom. These skills are vital to successful travel, wherever you happen to go. Even if you don’t have a great deal of “formal experience” in these areas, including the soft skills you developed while traveling on your resume allows you to provide concrete examples. For instance, if an interviewer asks how you handle unexpected issues, you can simply refer to a time that something went wrong in another country and how you managed.
How to Add Travel to Your Resume
The best way to add travel experience to your resume depends in large part on the type of travel. For example, if you traveled to work—you were teaching, engaged in disaster relief, etc.—then include your travel in your work experience. Even if you just studied abroad and interned, that belongs in your work experience where you can explain in more detail what you did.
If you traveled as a volunteer, include it under the volunteer section, especially if it was only a short trip (a few weeks or less). Longer trips can go under your work experience. Be sure to include where you worked, who you worked with, and what your responsibilities and accomplishments were. Including volunteer work is always a good idea, as it reveals your values and commitment to giving back, but it also shows your global experience and certain character traits.
If your travel experience doesn’t fit under work or volunteer experience—you take a few vacations each year, for instance—then include your travel under personal interests. If you have visited a substantial number of countries, or some more unusual or exotic places, don’t be afraid to mention that. Again, you’re giving insight into who you are and opening the door to conversations about your experience.
Finally, don’t forget to include your skills and experience where appropriate. In a functional format resume, for instance, you highlight specific skills and achievements apart from specific employers. Include your travel-related personal growth in that section. Again, you’ll have specific examples to draw upon when asked to describe your experience or answer behavioral-type interviews.
Standing out in a crowded field of candidates isn’t easy. But by including your travel experience on your resume, you can show employers that you are multi-faceted and have the skills and experience they are looking for.