Like to travel? It can improve your job prospects!

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By Sabrina Almeida

We have heard it a hundred times, how travel broadens your mind! However, a new job-hiring trend might have you packing your suitcase or backpack soon, and more often.

Faced with the daunting prospect of screening hundreds of applicants, all with top-notch qualifications and tons of experience, recruiters are changing selection criteria to separate the cream.

It may surprise you to learn that what you do outside of your office hours can literally bump you up to the top of list… and travel is one of those things that can wedge the door open wider.

Leaving the personal development mumbo-jumbo aside, your penchant for travel is being viewed as an important professional qualification. Why and how, you might ask?

Well your travel, or lack of it, says a lot about what you bring to the job. Let’s see examine how your travel resume might be interpreted by your prospective employer.

If employers are seeking to find out how you will react to new situations, your international travel exploits may put them at ease. Especially, if you have travelled off the beaten path which pushes you out of your comfort zone. Having navigated your way in a new place, different culture and people, you are more likely to be open-minded as well as adjusting. It’s that out-of-the-box thinker that every ad is screaming about and travel seems to indicate you fit the bill.

With problem-solving skills being a biggie for every job, employers now have a different approach for evaluating your acumen. Since on-the-job examples can be finely crafted, who can tell what you have or have not done. Being in a foreign place without your usual comforts and conveniences often forces you to rethink your priorities and approach. Employers equate these experiences favourably because it indicates that you will get the job done with whatever resources you have. Possibly with less stress too.

Team player
Do you get along with everyone or have a whole list of pet peeves? Are you shy among unfamiliar people? Travel can round off all those sharp corners. Meeting diverse people makes you more accepting of different cultures and perspectives. To employers being able to ‘roll with the punches’ makes you a team player and an asset.

Networking skills
Employers love the ‘contacts’ that you can bring to job. You also never know who you will meet when you travel (even your new boss) and connections are easier to make in an informal, recreational setting. Simply put travel can increase your professional network which gives employers an incentive to hire you.

Higher productivity
There is nothing like a vacation to get rid off all the stress you are carrying around. Chances are you will come back recharged and ready to hit the ground at a faster pace. Meaning higher productivity and better results.

Open to business travel or relocation
With business going global many Canadian companies have international clients which requires their employees to travel. I met an architect who spent most of his time on building projects in South-East Asia and the Middle-East. The same goes for many engineers who frequently travel to China and other parts of Asia on work. With dwindling opportunities, the earlier trend that saw foreign professionals flocking to North America seems to have been reversed. If you are not open to travel or temporary relocation, it could mean no job!

Even colleges and universities give weight to travel. Carleton University nudged their architecture students to include their travelogues in the brief biography. With many programs offering opportunities to study abroad, they want to know if you are up to it. More students are also taking a gap year to explore the world and seem to benefit both academically and professionally on account of it. Those that purchased Via Rail’s Canada 150 Youth passes were definitely on the smart track.

It’s time to get up and see what’s out there—in Ontario, Canada and the world. If not for the experience then at least because you don’t want to be unemployable. Employers might be inclined to agree with St. Augustine of Hippo who said, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.”

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