Last September, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take a break from work and travel the world (well, South East Asia) for three months with two of my closest friends. It was truly one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences that I think I will ever have and if you’re considering doing the same, I thoroughly recommend it. I know that travelling is something that a lot of people consider doing but often never ‘get round to’, which may be partly due to the fear of being unemployed and penniless upon returning. This blog post is, therefore, designed as a comprehensive guide to balancing a successful career with a period of travel.
For me personally, once I’d decided that travelling was something I definitely wanted to do, I sat down with Ben (my boss) and was honest about my intentions to take time off to travel with the view to relocating to London and searching for a new job there upon my return. This all seemed fairly straightforward at the time, although now that I have returned, I realise just how difficult it is to find a new job and move to a new city ‘just like that’. I was extremely lucky that Ben was so understanding and ultimately we came to the decision that I would rejoin Thompson & Terry Recruitment temporarily whilst on the lookout for a new job and home. This benefitted us both – I could get stuck in straight away with my old job and help the company out in what is one of our busiest times of the year, as well as alleviating my financial pressure and showing future employers that I was good enough to be re-employed. As such, my advice would be to be as open and honest with your current employer as possible, it may end up working in your favour. Whether you take a sabbatical or not, it’s important to remember that a lot may have changed in your absence. I know a few people who have taken sabbaticals only to then unexpectedly return to a different job or culture. As such, regardless of your work-travel employment situation, it is important to always bear your next career move in mind.
Before you go:
Update your CV – make sure to include all relevant statistics and achievements. You want to ensure that you don’t forget anything important when you return.
Save examples of your work – if you’re in role that requires further evidence of your abilities, e.g. a writing or design role, it’s a good idea to save a portfolio of your work all in one place before you leave. (For example, I wrote a number of different articles for a local magazine, and it has been particularly helpful to have these to hand, rather than having to search for them upon request).
Update your social networking – make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and effectively showcases your abilities to potential recruiters. Also, if you have the odd non-PG drunk photo on your Instagram page, I would advise updating your privacy settings as to not deter any future employers.
Whilst you’re away:
It’s unrealistic to expect to be doing any substantial work whilst you’re on the other side of the world (well, unless you’re me who actually didn’t update their CV before leaving and had to do it on flights and sleeper buses – which I definitely don’t recommend). Having said that, there are a few things that you should bear in mind whilst you’re away.
Save job descriptions – when you have a few minutes, I would advise having a look at current job vacancies as it will give you a clear idea of what’s out there and the kind of jobs that you will be applying for. I wouldn’t advise actually applying for any roles (apart from maybe on your last few days) as it’s unlikely that they’ll still be available once you’re back home.
Make a note of your travel achievements – it’s useful to always have your CV in the back of your mind whilst you’re away. For example, many people volunteer abroad which should certainly be included on their CV – it will look even more impressive to employers if you’re able to include specific facts and figures about your experiences so remember to make a note of these.
Set a date to begin the job search – make time to catch up with family and friends when you return, don’t be unrealistic and plan to start the job search on your first day back. I returned on the 23rd of December and realistically wasn’t going to be able to do anything productive over the Christmas period, therefore I planned to start my search for a new job on the 3rd of January.
Perfect your CV – if you wrote your CV before you left you now have the advantage of looking at it with a fresh set of eyes. Additionally, you may now have extra things to add or have altered the kind of role you’re looking for, which you can update accordingly.
Ask others for help – it’s useful to ask others (even if it’s just friends or family) to look over your CV and offer advice. Lots of websites do offer free CV proofreading services, although I would be wary of these as they’re often trying to sell you something. We actually offer professional CV writing here at Thompson & Terry Recruitment – please feel free to contact us for more details.
Sign up to a recruitment agency – the more recruitment agencies you sign up for, the more recruiters will be bearing you in mind for new roles, ultimately aiding your job search. If you’re returning to the Oxfordshire area, Thompson & Terry Recruitment will certainly be able to help you out!
Look for a temporary role – transitioning from exploration and excitement to being at home with little purpose or focus can be extremely daunting. Therefore, if you have not taken a sabbatical, I would advise looking for a temporary role to keep you motivated and earning money whilst in the process of applying for permanent positions.
Set yourself ‘working hours’ – spending an entire day scrolling through job boards is bound to be disheartening. In my experience, it’s far more productive to allocate yourself specific hours of the day for job searching and fill the rest of the day with hobbies or other work.
Stay focused – prior to your job search, I would recommend having a really clear idea of what you want your next role to look like and making a list of priorities. It’s easy to become fed up with a job search and settle for a role that isn’t quite right, which will likely be disadvantageous in the long-run. For example, if you’re certain that salary and bonus is most important to you, don’t settle for a role that is unable to meet these expectations.
Stay positive – no matter your situation, job-hunting is always a daunting process and rejection if often inevitable. But remember to maintain the self-belief and confidence that you probably began your job search with, the right role will come eventually and when it does you’ll be glad the other opportunities didn’t work out!
If you’ve recently returned to Oxfordshire following a period of travel, head over to our Jobs page to explore our latest vacancies or email your CV across to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.