Dear Future Employer…
I felt compelled to write this post after chatting with someone on Twitter who was really struggling to get back into work after returning from a career break. He told me that perspective employers were considering it to be a negative that he had a “gap” on his CV and one recruitment agent had even told him that he was “unemployable”.
It reminded me of my own struggles to get back into work after returning from my grown up gap year and how frustrating I had found the whole experience.
I’m lucky that I’ve now managed to find a good job, but it took a long time and the constant rejection sometimes made me question whether I’d done the right thing in taking so much time off to travel.
But it really does annoy me how some employers dismiss career breaks so readily, when they teach you so many valuable life-long skills. In fact, it made me so cross that I put it into words!
Dear Future Employer,
I’m writing to ask you not to judge me for taking a career break. Please don’t think I wasted that year on the road; that I sat on a beach and worked on my tan and have returned home 12 months later expecting to walk into a job.
Yes, it may be true that I didn’t attend any fancy courses during my time away. I didn’t take any compulsory health and safety requirements, or sit in a conference room learning about the latest data protection issues. But please don’t think I didn’t learn any new skills as I navigated myself around the world.
I see you’re looking for someone with good organisational skills. In the last year I’ve managed to travel through nine countries on three continents. Just thinking about the amount of paperwork that required still makes my head hurt!
You need someone to negotiate your next big deal? No worries. I have argued with the most terrifying taxi drivers in Thailand and bargained with the hard-nosed ladies in markets across China. I can guarantee I’ll get you the best deal possible.
Need someone with patience? I have successfully managed to gain visas for seven different countries where I don’t speak the language. I have sat for hours, and in some cases days, waiting to talk to officials and being passed from pillar to post. I now have the patience of a saint.
Looking for someone with drive and determination? I took a huge risk to follow a dream. I had an amazing break and achieved life-long ambitions. Now I’m back and ready to put that same effort and determination into my next job.
But most of all I have learnt that nothing is as scary as it seems. I have climbed mountains I thought were too big to climb, I’ve jumped from a plane, even though I’m terrified of heights, I have sat through a 36 hour bus journey and I’ve even eaten bugs! I can do anything you ask me to do.
Travelling is the best thing I have ever done in my life. Through it I gained confidence, I became a kinder person and I learnt to trust my instincts.
So I’m sorry my humble “career break” doesn’t look much on my CV. But please don’t think it was wasted. Please don’t tell me I am “unemployable”. I’ve learnt more in the last year than I learnt in ten years sitting at my desk.
A very employable traveller
So true! I was lucky in that it didn’t take me too long to find a job after coming back from a RTW trip (and it was with a travel company which might’ve helped) but employers can be really short sighted about things like travel that are not the conventional career path.
I agree and it’s such a shame because I think there are so many transferable skills you learn along the way when you are travelling.
This is so so true Emily! Travelling teaches us so much that you just cannot possibly learn at home and it’s a fantastic thing to have on any CV. I think a lot of people who’ve travelled don’t mention it though making it just look like gaps in their CV where they’ve just bummed around. It needs to be included and all the things achieved should be mentioned – organisation, volunteering, being thrown in at the deep end, facing fears like you said, and learning life skills that you can’t learn anywhere else.
Actually I’m pretty sure one of the main reasons I got my job (not at all travel related) was because I’d travelled so much, as the person who interviewed me was so interested in my travels and just kept asking me questions about that!
I agree Ayla, but even though I have it on my CV the last interview I had (which was for my current job) is the only time I’ve ever been asked a question about it! If it was me doing the interview that’s what I’d spend the whole time talking about 😉
Also, I cannot believe you ate those bugs!! Just looking at that plate makes me want to throw up!!
Haha, they were pretty gross – very crunchy!
I hope this is the cover letter you’ve been sending everyone, girl. 😀
It wasn’t unfortunately but looking back, I’m thinking maybe it should have been!
I love this post! I’m heading off to Asia, Oz & NZ after Xmas by myself for a year and was a little worried about what the career break might mean for my CV – but I figure it is all about how you market it. Like you say, you weren’t off lazing on a beach the whole time, you’re meeting new people, new cultures, experiencing life and true independence. I know I will learn more in this next year away than I would in another year of working for a company I don’t believe in. 🙂
Ooh, how exciting! Yes, you will have an amazing time and will have so many fantastic experiences, which will make you a great employee in the future! (By the way if you fancy doing an interview for my blog then feel free to drop me a line 😉 )
Thanks – I do hope so! I’d love to – that would be great 🙂 my email is firstname.lastname@example.org xxx
Hmmm… might have to use some of your words in this when I start applying for jobs again…. Great post 🙂