Gone are the days when the things that make you employable are graduating school and working in the same place all your life. Employers are looking for a wide range of skills to make up their companies and whether it’s in the field of legal jobs, the teaching profession or business, they want to know you are ready to handle whatever can be throw at you. Living and working overseas is a great way to demonstrate this ability.
Or is it?
There are some lines of work that really lend themselves to traveling. Getting out there and seeing something different, gaining perspective and witnessing different ways of doing things are invaluable skill sets you cannot learn in a book or by staying put your entire life. Showing you’re willing to take on challenges and risks even when you have no prior experience shows resiliency and progressive employers put this very high on their list of desirable traits.
Then there are those employers who view long term travel as a sign that you cannot commit and that you can’t be counted on as an employee. They are more willing to reward those who have stuck with them for a long period of time and don’t look favourably upon someone who may be looking to take off again in the future. If you find yourself faced with this kind of employer or this kind of job – unless it’s your absolute dream – start thinking about alternatives.
Any job or employer that shuns travel as a time wasting, frivolous activity is not one that will make you happy in the long run. If your goal in life is to make tons of money and they provide it, then go right ahead, but be prepared to have your career satisfaction be miserable. Employers who penalize those who think outside the box are those that typically those that don’t have their eyes on the future and will be ill-equipped to survive in the ever changing work force.
Business is a global market and so long as you’re perceptive when you’re traveling (that is, paying attention and reflecting on what you see and not just drinking your time away), you can bring a wealth of knowledge and perspective to any organization so long as you properly articulate it. Even heavily localized professions like law can benefit from overseas travel and living as this insight gives fresh interpretation for legal proceedings. In both cases, with your willingness to travel, perhaps there’s even room for you in some sort of international department?
So does traveling for a year make you more employable once you return home? In the end, it call comes down to you – if you make good use of the experience to gain perspective and then demonstrate that perspective in a job interview, it will absolutely be a benefit to you professionally. Keep in mind too, many of the advantages of a year travelling won’t make themselves immediately known – it may be years later where they pop up and when they do, you’ll be glad you spent that year abroad.