Friday, December 16, 2011

Promote Study, Work, or Travel Abroad Experience when Job Searching

If you have study or work abroad experience, including volunteer work, or international travel experience that has exposed you to different cultures, people, and situations, you should promote this in your job search. In today’s increasingly global workplace, employers value those who have knowledge or experience with different cultures and backgrounds. For job seekers, this could mean an important competitive edge.

Your experiences in a different country and culture may have enriched you in ways that are desirable to prospective employers. Following are some marketable qualities you may have developed as a result of your travels.

  • Increased sense of cultural awareness and sensitivity to the customs, beliefs, and behaviors of others
  • Expanded knowledge of another geographic area(s) and its economy, government, resources, history, etc.
  • Strengthened communication skills, particularly the context in which messages are communicated and how they are perceived
  • Strengthened second language skills
  • Heightened self-confidence and independence
  • Increased willingness to learn and try new things

If you developed any special skills as a result of your travels, be sure to highlight this in cover letters, resumes, and job interviews. The experience is even better if you can relate it to the job you’re pursuing. For example, does the company you’re interviewing with have operations, customers, or even suppliers in a country where you’ve studied, worked, or travelled? If so, how might your knowledge of that country’s customs, people, or language translate into advantages on the job?

Lastly, whether you’ve had opportunity to experience another country’s culture firsthand or not, it’s important to be respectful of other backgrounds, cultures, and opinions. Consider that cultural diversity—or any type of diversity in the workplace—can promote a broad spectrum of ideas and solutions that can strengthen the overall organization.

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