Favorite Tips: Updating Your Resume Before Your Travels

Now that you’ve made the decision to take career break and travel I, bet you have an extensive Excel sheet with all the items you need to pack and do before you go away.

  • Do a test pack of backpack to make sure it’s not too heavy – Check
  • Make extra copies of visas and passport – Check
  • Create blog to stay in touch with family & friends – Check
  • Update resume – wait, what?!?!?!?!

I know you just left your job and can’t wait to focus on your travels, but updating your resume before you leave is one of the best pre-trip activities you can do. In his post, “How My Career Break Helped My Career”, Michael Bontempi noted:

I developed a resume prior to leaving to ensure that my latest accomplishments were fresh in my mind.

After your RTW travels, the last thing you’ll want to reflect on is what you did during your last job. When Sherry Ott returned from her first 16-month trip, she:

…actually got out my resume and looked at it wondering what all of it even meant. I really, really tried to remember specifics about my old job – what software we used, what vendors I worked with, what projects I worked on for three years – and I could come up with nothing but faint memories of bad florescent lighting and eating at my desk.

David Lee had a similar experience:

After 20 months away, I returned home to the DC area. I knew I should’ve updated my resume *before* I left home in late 2007, but I was frankly too lazy. It was much more fun to anticipate the adventures that lay ahead. Of course once I got back, I forgot all the details of my previous job, and was dependent on reconstructing accomplishments from my annual performance reviews.

When you return from your travels, you’ll still want to revisit your resume and rework it in any way necessary. If you want to go back into the same field, it may not need much tweaking. But if you want to explore new career opportunities (which many career breakers do), it may need to be reworded. But the good news is, you’ve already made note of your most recent accomplishments!

And unlike younger backpackers who may not have as much work experience under their belts, you don’t need to pad your resume with experiences from your travels. Instead, use your cover letter and interviews as opportunities to explain your decision to take a career break and travel and how it has helped you focus on your next career steps. (See: Getting Back to Reality and Resumes)

However, if you did any extensive volunteer work where you utilized some of your business skills, it may be worth adding something to your resume.

Sarah Van Auken of Volunteering Global, a site that educates prospective volunteers about international service trips, offered this advice:

Depending on how long you went or how involved you were in a project, put it in the professional experience section, rather than listing in a separate section of community service activities, as oftentimes employers gloss over those. This works especially well if you helped with any type of administrative activity, such as fundraising, grant proposal writing, career training, or similar.

Talk about what the project goal was – such as raising funds to build a new school for an underserved community, and talk about what you did to further that goal.

Part of my volunteer experience with Peru’s Challenge was to take photos of the children in the community and help design a calendar for fundraising purposes. The calendar sold out immediately and helped to raise over $5,000 for a community emergency medical fund. As I’m a freelance photographer and designer, I made note of that under my professional experiences.

So take the time to do what may seem like a tedious task before you travel. You’ll be thankful you did so when you return.

Photo credits: andia

Other comments

6 Comments on "Favorite Tips: Updating Your Resume Before Your Travels"

  1. Dave on Thu, 1st Oct 2009 3:38 pm 

    “I could come up with nothing but faint memories of bad florescent lighting and eating at my desk.”

    hehe, so true! I don’t know how I am going to go back to working in an office. At least I’m using this break as an opportunity to change careers while I’m still (sorta) young.

  2. Michaela Potter on Thu, 1st Oct 2009 3:44 pm 

    Dave – I hope you’ve made some progress in updating your resume now that you’ve been back a couple of months! Hopefully your next career will be far away from florescent lighting – though I work from home and still eat at my desk.

  3. Tweets that mention Updating Your Resume Before Your Travels | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- Topsy.com on Thu, 1st Oct 2009 4:31 pm 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Lee and Cherie King . Cherie King said: RT@rtwdave: RT@CareerBreakHQs: Add Update Your #Resume to your pre-trip check list before your RTW#travels http://bit.ly/cNGIj #careeradvice […]

  4. Sherry Ott on Sat, 3rd Oct 2009 2:54 am 

    The florescent lighting sucked the life out of me and fried my brain cells….worse than carpel tunnel.

    Dave – your going back to an office?!

  5. Dave on Sat, 3rd Oct 2009 12:09 pm 

    Sherry – I absolutely, unequivocally do NOT want to go back to an office. I don’t know how I could handle it after experiencing the freedom of traveling and living in other parts of the world. To that end, I’m pushing full steam ahead on building websites and traffic so I can be location independent.

    But in the mean time, I think I’ll need an office job to pay off my credit card. 😉

  6. Alonna on Sun, 4th Oct 2009 5:42 pm 

    Ooh, really good tip!! Luckily I happened to update my resume before traveling anyway – I included it in my proposal “package” to ask for a Leave of Absence from my job.

    ( see previous article: http://briefcasetobackpack.com/2009/09/circumstances-negotiating-a-sabbatical/ )

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