Why have international experience on your resume?
Living abroad can be incredibly enriching, and not just because of the sights, the food, the people and the parties. Travelling is also good for you professionally; as you move you’re also developing the soft skills, like flexibility, adaptability and resilience that many recruiters are looking for. Aside from the benefits of learning another language, any time working abroad, from a few months to a few years, will benefit your career.
Guardian jobs has an resume of a Q&A for young British students thinking about taking a gap year. The final verdict?
Do it. It’ll be fun, you’ll learn more than you can imagine, and your job prospects on the way back will be all the better for it.
“Overcoming the challenges of living and working abroad (such as dealing with bureaucracy, accepting different working practices, and surviving without your usual support network of family and friends) increases your resourcefulness and resilience. Experiencing a different culture or learning a foreign language also makes you more marketable to employers,” writes the Guardian.
An essential part of travelling and living abroad is finding yourself in a situation and having to just figure it out. It’s natural, it happens to all of us. It’s also very similar to the skills required in most hectic workplaces.
Candidates who have lived abroad are more mature and better at finding creative solutions on the spot, according to the Guardian’s Q&A members.
You don’t have to work in a particular field, either. The most important skills are soft skills that are the most transferable across different industries.
Another Q&A member tells the Guardian: “In our experience employers are impressed by people who have taken a gap year or career break and this opinion seems to be growing, across the board. By taking time out to travel and explore new destinations and cultures you will also be developing your soft skill set and the kinds of skills you may return with are transferable into the work place; for example leadership, team building, budgeting, negotiation and even determination and patience.
But even if your international work experience is unrelated to future employment prospects, you can still find highlights to strengthen your job applications. Treat your experience abroad as a career stepping-stone, be open to new working environments, and look for ways to make a bottom-line difference to the company. Note your achievements and successes, and apply the usual criteria to selecting the most relevant for the job you’re applying for.
And the need for language skills is even stronger for American students. US companies have more domestic multilingual marketing and outreach than their British counterparts, and the size of the non-English-speaking communities in the US is over ten times larger than in the UK.
In the end, it’s a risk, but a worthwhile one. Living abroad shows that you are comfortable leaving your comfort zone and adapting to your surroundings.
Photo via Flickr user Vox Efx