For many career breakers, it would be a dream to continue to travel. But most do return to work, whether it’s a new career or back to the briefcase. Mario Schulzke, Creator of CareerSparx, shares with us “How to Make Your Travels Part of Your Career Brand”.
Your career brand is much more than the sum of your past work experience. It is the aggregate of both who you are as an individual and why someone would want to work with you. It is about taking various life experiences and showing how they have—or will—contribute to your career.
If you are contemplating taking some time off to travel or if you are returning to work from extended travel, be confident that it likely did not or will not hinder your long-term career goals.
Wherever travel comes into your life, it is there for a purpose; it satisfies a need and brings clarity to our often-convoluted worlds. You experience new things, learn about new cultures and often return with a wisdom that informs how you see the world.
When it comes time to return to the workplace, you can communicate the value of your travel experience as part of your career brand. Here’s how:
Understand how your travels contribute to who you are.
This may take some careful retrospection unless you keep a blog or journal—which is a great idea that I go into more detail about below—but it is important to understand what you learned and experienced while traveling. Reflect on your time abroad and the qualities you developed as a result of your experiences. Take the time to write this down and contribute to the list as more things come to mind.
Here are some questions for thought:
- What spurred my travel ambitions in the first place?
- What was the most memorable experience and why?
- What were my most important revelations?
- Did I think back on my life before travel in any particular way? Was there anything negative I hoped to change?
Translate these experiences and qualities to work-related skills.
Now that you understand the positive ways in which travel affected your life, you need to communicate how this will help you professionally. Again, write this down, using concrete examples from your travel to tell a story and make a point. You can weave this information into your resume or use it during interviews. Here are some questions to get started:
- Have my life-long goals changed? Have my career goals changed? How?
- What qualities have I strengthened that would make me an effective team player?
- What have I learned from my interactions with strangers around the world that will help me be a better leader?
Demonstrate a better understanding of who you are and what you want.
After traveling, you will be returning with a much better idea of the type of job and workplace that is right for you. This brings confidence to future employers because if you truly know what you want, what you can provide and how you fit into their company, you will be a reliable and motivated part of their team. Communicate this.
Document your travels and experiences.
Listen, the Web is here to stay and it’s going to affect your professional career in some sort of way. An interesting blog, for example, is something that you can do to set you apart from other job applicants. Usually the hardest challenge about creating a blog is having something worthy to write about. Well, guess what? Unless your travels consisted of being holed up in a hotel room in Cincinnati, I bet you have some interesting stories to tell. So, tell them.
Check out WordPress.com, Tumblr.com or Posterous.com for easy ways to set up your own blog.
Wherever your career brand manifests itself—through a blog, resume, cover letter or your persona—know that your travel experience can be as valuable to a potential employer as it is to you.
Mario Schulzke was born and raised in Germany, and lived in France, Spain and England before coming to the U.S. as a high school exchange student. He has traveled across China and has backpacked many of America’s national parks. He is the creator of CareerSparx.com, an online course that teaches recent graduates how to start their careers. For more information, download their free 61-page guide on how to start your career or check out the CareerSparx blog.