After two years of travel, I was convinced I would never find a job. I had no idea of what I wanted to do, and I only had a few college internships on my CV. Who would ever hire me?
But I did find a job, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I now work for an awesome Ad Tech company in Boulder, Colorado, and I was promoted to marketing last week. (!!!)
So I wanted to give advice for those trying to find a job after traveling. Finding a job after a gap year is daunting, but definitely doable.
Apply at start-ups.
If you’ve spent the last few years traveling, it will be hard to get a job at a Fortune 500 company. (Depending on your background and connections, of course.)
Instead, apply at companies where nontraditional backgrounds are valued, like start-ups or tech companies.
Plus, if you’re a free-spirited traveler, you’ll probably be much happier at a company with unlimited PTO, beer Friday’s and workplace yoga than you will be in a cubicle.
Apply at companies you already use and like.
When I was applying for jobs, I applied at companies I already used and like. For example, I applied to sovrn because I was using them for advertising, and I was really impressed with their professionalism and personalized approach.
Pro-tip- apply to work at the apps on your phone. If you’re using a company’s app, you obviously already like their product. When I was job-hunting, I applied to Bloglovin’, SpanishDict and TED- all apps I use daily.
And as apps are in the tech space, nontraditional backgrounds are a pro, not a con.
Consider paid internships.
Understandably, you’re probably looking for a full-time position. But don’t eschew internships- they can be a great way to get your foot in the door of either the company you want or the industry you want.
Case in point- my friend was looking for a PR job in New York, but she ended up taking an internship. When the company didn’t hire her at the end of her internship, she was bummed. But a few weeks later she snagged a full-time job with a competitor- which turned out to be an even better opportunity.
Job sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com actually can help find you a job.
When I was job-hunting, I read a lot of career articles and books that called job sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com “black holes for resumés”.
So I was surprised when I got several interviews through Indeed.com. While it’s certainly preferable to apply directly to companies or to use connections, I would still use job sites.
If you’re a blogger, apply at tech companies.
Blogging has been unbelievably valuable for me. It not only got me a foot in the door at sovrn, as we work directly with publishers, it helped me get a promotion to marketing.
So if you have a somewhat-established blog, I’d apply at tech companies, and particularly those in digital advertising. Your knowledge of what publishers want and need is more valuable than you might think.
A blogging background is also a natural fit for a marketing job. As a blogger you have a lot of valuable skills, like content creation, digital marketing, social media, SEO and WordPress, so make sure to list those on your CV.
Apply at companies where employees are happy (a.k.a. make sure to check Glassdoor to see the company’s reviews!)
Glassdoor is your friend. Glassdoor gives insider insight into the company, from what the interview process is like to employees’ reviews of the company and CEO. Before I interviewed with companies, I would make sure they had 3.5 or more stars on Glassdoor.
In addition to Glassdoor, I also googled “Best places to work in (wherever you’re searching)”, to figure out where employees are happiest. In fact one of my friends took a job with sovrn because it was listed as one of the top ten places to work in Colorado.
Don’t just take any job.
I know it’s tempting, I really do. I was bored out of my mind living at my parents’ house when I got a job offer for a position in a call center.
I considered taking the job, but the idea of walking three blocks every morning in subzero downtown Detroit to my call center job made me want to run off to Thailand.
So don’t settle. It’s better to wait than to take a job you know you don’t want.
Languages don’t matter much for most jobs.
When I came back after traveling, I had two unique skills: fluency in Spanish and French and blogging experience. Funny enough, interviewers found my blogging experience much more valuable. Frankly, no one cared about my foreign language skills.
And I’m not the only one whose foreign language skills turned out to be useless career-wise. For example, I have a friend who is fluent in Mandarin, which he primarily learned for his career in international business/consulting. In interviews, interviewers will often say, “Oh wow, you speak fluent Mandarin! That will be very useful for another company someday.”
While languages might be useful in some sectors, like governmental work, they aren’t remotely useful in many fields. Also certain languages are more useful than others. For example, many government jobs need speakers of Farsi, Arabic or Mandarin, but languages like Spanish and French are in low-demand.
If you’re honestly just not ready for a desk job, consider a seasonal job.
If you’re sick of full-time travel but aren’t ready for the 9-5, consider a seasonal job. My friend Jessica works five months of the year as an adventure tour leader, and travels the rest. My friend Susan has a ton of great resources for those looking for seasonal work, and has worked as everything from a kayak guide in Alaska to a volunteer in a Nicaraguan school.
Au pairing is always another great option- here’s my post on how to become an au pair.