“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Whether you’ve been teaching English in Korea, working on a farm in New Zealand or performing an internship in Vancouver on a Canada work permit, working abroad experience will make you more employable when you come home.
However, in order to take full advantage of your working abroad experience you need to know how to present it in a job interview.
Some employers will still see a trip abroad as an extended holiday, so it is up to you to show them how this experience gave you new skills and improved your performance. When you are describing your strengths in a job interview, this is your chance to impress them with all of the amazing things that you have done while you were working abroad.
Anticipate Questions and Prepare
Before you head into the interview, think about the type of common interview questions that you will likely be asked, such as:
- Describe a situation where you were faced with an obstacle and overcame it.
- Give an example of a time when you adapted to change.
- Describe a situation where you resolved a conflict with an unsatisfied customer.
These questions will be different according to your field, but they always involve you using an example to show that you have prior experience with a certain type of situation.
Before the interview, brainstorm a list of possible questions such as these that the employer might ask and then think of moments in your working abroad adventure which might apply. For example, adapting to change might apply to the challenge of learning to speak French so that you could navigate your way around Paris. An obstacle could be applying for your New Zealand Visa or when your bus or train was cancelled and you had to find alternate transportation on short notice to get to your job on time. Working abroad will have given you lots of challenges and situations to choose from!
Highlight Any Training or Education You Picked Up Abroad
When you worked in a five star hotel in Scotland, did they give you customer service training? When you taught English in Japan did you pick up some of the language? Make sure that you highlight any skills that you learned during your working abroad experience and explain how they will serve you well in this new position.
Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Enthusiasm
If the employer notices the working abroad adventure on your resume and asks you about it, don’t be afraid to gush about how exciting it was. Employers are not just looking for qualifications; they are looking for someone with personality who will get excited about the work. When you show your passion it will make you stand out from the other people that they interviewed that day. They will see that you have the drive and the passion to make something happen.
(That said; make sure that you are only sharing your enthusiasm from the professional side of the working holiday, because your stories about getting drunk on the beach in Thailand on the weekends might not make the most responsible impression.)
A year spent working abroad and exploring the world is a huge asset and a great selling point when applying for a job. Make sure that you sell it with confidence so that you can show your potential employers how much you learned on your adventure.
Kelly Dunning is a freelance writer for Global Visas, the world’s leading authority on immigration and working holiday visas. Born in Alberta, Canada she has worked abroad in New Zealand and the UK and is currently backpacking around Southeast Asia.
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Good luck in your search.