I took a year off to travel and now employers are holding it against me

A reader writes:

I’m a legal professional with about 7 years of work experience. I recently pursued a life-long goal to take some time off and travel the world for a year. I got back to the U.S. about 3 weeks ago and am now looking to get back into the workforce.

I’m worried about how this “career break” is being viewed by potential employers, both on my resume as well as in interviews. My work experience obviously lists that I’m not currently working, and that I ended my last job about a year ago. I also list my travels in my resume as a Personal Achievement. In cover letters, I state that I just returned to the U.S. after taking some time off to travel, and highlight skills and lessons learned while overseas. I have explained in interviews and initial phone calls that my departure was voluntary on my part, and that both my managers at my most recent job have agreed to be professional references for me.

However, I just can’t seem to get over the feeling that my voluntary departure and career break is still looked upon negatively (and that some people think I’m lying). I get asked for more and more detail about my departure, with some HR personnel and recruiters implying that I did not leave voluntarily. Also, one potential interviewer asked me how I could prove that I didn’t get it “out of my system” and I wouldn’t quit a year down the line to travel again?

I truly left on my own, on good terms, and am ready to get back to work. How can I prove this to everyone else?

It shouldn’t reflect poorly on you. But the reality is that U.S. employers tend to have a bias against taking time away from the workforce, especially if it’s optional. People are more understanding when it’s to have a kid or care for a sick relative. But taking time off to travel just because you feel like it will read to some employers as “not fully committed to a career.”

To be clear, it’s not that most employers will think that that’s definitely the case with you. But it raises the question for them, and when you’re competing against candidates who don’t raise that question, you’re at a disadvantage. (Some fields are exceptions to this, particularly those that work on international issues, where this kind of travel can be a plus. But law? Law tends to be pretty hard-driving, and people tend not to admire breaks.)

But the bigger issue is probably how you’re presenting it. Travel doesn’t belong on your resume. You’ve got it listed under Personal Achievement, which … no. Your resume isn’t for personal achievements. It’s for professional ones. Travel just isn’t an achievement in the sense that employers care about, so it doesn’t belong on your resume. (Lots of things are in that category — things that are achievements in the personal sense but irrelevant to employers: marriage, children, memorizing every episode of season three of The Sopranos, and so forth.) Putting it there is placing in an inappropriate amount of emphasis on it.

You do need to explain the gap in some way, so it makes sense to explain in your cover letter that you’ve just returned to the U.S. after traveling for a year and are excited to resume work — but that should be it. No further explanation, and definitely no discussion of skills and lessons you learned overseas (just like you wouldn’t include lessons you learned from, say, planning a wedding or from spending a year in Alaska).

None of this is to discount the importance of what you can learn by traveling. Travel can have a massive impact on someone. But it’s not work-related, and it doesn’t belong in your cover letter (with a few limited exceptions, like if you’re applying to an organization that does aid work in the country you were living in — and even then, you’d still want to leave it at a few sentences.)

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. bridget*

    At least in my legal community, for entry-level attorney positions, it’s pretty common to have a short “personal interests” section at the bottom of a resume. I’ve seen several with a bullet point for “International Travel,” sometimes with a couple of representative countries in parentheses. The purpose is allegedly to spark conversation in an interview that can give your future managers and coworkers a glimpse into what your personality is, and perhaps create a connection over a mutual love of rock climbing, or whatever. BUT – it’s never listed as an “achievement,” it’s a very brief section (2-3 lines max), and I’ve only seen it on resumes for entry-level positions, where presumably the list of professional achievements is shorter and the interviewers are heavily searching for personality fit v. demonstrable skill.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      +1 — I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have an “interests” or “miscellaneous” section of your resume that indicates why you’re an interesting human being. But it should be brief.

      OP, the one exception I would make to the “don’t discuss lessons learned” advice that Alison gave is IF something you learned relates directly to the job you want. Say you know that the firm you’re applying to has a lot of international firms as clients, and your year abroad gives you in-depth knowledge of the culture and business practices of a part of the world they work a lot with — then yes, I think it’s worth mentioning. But general life lessons, I agree with Alison — they don’t strengthen you as a candidate.

      1. MK*

        Here is what most people don’t get about the law: geogrphically speaking, it might be the least transferable skill there is. A first-year law student in my country is more qualified to work in a law office here than someone who graduated from Harvard law school. Your example is a case in point: if an international firm hires an U.S. law firm, they are hiring them for their expertise in U.S. law; “in-depth knowledge of the culture and business practices of a part of the world they work a lot with” rarely, if ever, plays a part in legal matters.

        Also, I don’t think the kind of experience the OP is talking about can translate well in that respect. Spending a year living (and especially working) in one foreing country conceivably allows you to learn the culture in a way that might be an asset in a professional matter; visiting 10 countries in 12 months would sound to most people that you played tourist for a year.

      2. Cheeky*

        I roll my eyes when I see “Interests” or similar on resumes. It looks like filler, trying to make up for lack of experience.

        1. Purr purr purr*

          It probably depends on the industry you’re in. It’s valuable in mine that requires a lot of field work in remote locations – most employers want to know that you’ll have things to do in the evening and won’t go nuts from boredom. I agree though in that it seems a little pointless in an office-based situation!

        2. Green*

          It’s recommended for first-year associates in biglaw. You go to OCI, are herded from room to room to have 20 minute chat sessions with varying firms that often see 25 students in a day at EACH law school they visit (giving 1-2 callbacks per school, depending on school/firm/office) and then you are among dozens of callbacks who will then spend a full day interviewing (including lunch and often dinner) with another dozen or more people, who see interviewees all the time during callback season. Having a 1-2 line “interests” section can make a big difference in making those conversations go well. Then if you’re given an offer, it’s for a paid summer “internship” (long job interview) along with potentially dozens of other interns, and there’s a new batch every year. Most of the attorneys go to just a few of the summer events and when offer time comes around, it’s helpful to have an interesting identity associated with you. (Just not… too interesting, as in you got wasted and told racist jokes to a partner’s wife.)

          That said, stuff like “International Travel”, “Reading”, etc. are not interesting interests for these purposes. You’re much better off with something quirky there, but legitimate (“Blue Ribbon pie maker at the State Fair”) that helps people remember you, so that later they can be like “Who was Robert again? Oh, he was Pie Guy! I liked Pie Guy; he was great!”

          And, for OP, who is several years into the legal job path, there should no longer be an “Interests” section or a “Personal Achievements” section that includes anything other than pro bono awards, community recognition, board membership, etc. (that are seen as useful for firm reputation, network & ultimately getting business).

    2. MaryMary*

      I feel like OP should include it on his/her resume, somewhere. Cover letters often get separated from resumes and some application systems only want a resume (or for you to retype your resume in their form). If the travel is only mentioned in the cover letter, then the resume makes it look like OP has been doing nothing for the past year.

      I have a former colleague who did the exact same thing as OP, and she did note the travel on her resume. I can’t remember what her heading was now. It was either without a heading, or under Recent Experience or Relevant Experience.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      My law school’s career services office told us that if you are applying for jobs at a firm, you should have a “hobbies” or “personal interests” section so that employers have something to talk to you about. On the other hand, if you are applying for a public interest job, cut that section unless it’s really impressive. The employer will want to talk about your commitment to the field, not about your weekend rugby league.

      I have no idea if the advice is correct, but I’ve always been entertained by the underlying assumption that lawyers at firms don’t really want to talk about what they do.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’d guess that’d be since a lot of law students have similar resumes? And the hobbies could help differentiate?

        1. Corporate Attorney*

          You’d think so, but apparently every law student on earth enjoys cooking, running marathons, and travel (says the woman who’s seen 40+ 2L resumes in the last month).

          1. Turanga Leela*

            This is so funny and completely true. I think my resume used to say I liked yoga and murder mysteries. It’s hard to sound interesting when your life is basically class, study, gym, order takeout, watch DWTS, and repeat.

            The only great hobbies I’ve seen on resumes came from friends who had serious non-law accomplishments, including a woman who was a professional artist before law school and one person who was an Olympic medalist.

      2. HidingInPlainSight*

        I might have gotten that advice, too? My legal resume has an “interests” section – I play in a community orchestra, and I’ve had long conversations about it every time I’ve ever had an interview. Everyone has something to say, either “I played trumpet in high school, I wish I hadn’t stopped” or “My kid just started drums” and they’re always impressed that I’ve continued to play in an organized group as an adult. I’m not spectacular by any means, but I don’t think I’ll ever take it off because people just love to talk about it so much.

        1. Stephanie*

          I haven’t listed cello/community orchestra on my resume in a long time, but people definitely are interested if comes up organically.

          1. spocklady*

            Howdy, other cello player!

            Do you also find that people seem to particularly love that it’s cello (as opposed to piano or violin or trumpet or something)? For some reason I’ve noticed that I get a way more positive reaction about cello than I’ve gotten about other instruments I’ve dabbled with.

            1. Stephanie*

              Hmmm, kind of? I think maybe because it’s sort of a niche? Also, maybe the size. Haha. You have to be committed to carrying and playing something that awkwardly sized.

        2. GrumpyBoss*

          I think that is actually something really interesting to put on a resume.

          So many times in the personal interest section, I see things like, “volunteered for the PTA” or “amateur photographer”. Not taking anything away from these interests, but it is a big “so what” to me. If I saw something unique and that took a great deal of skill to do, like be in an orchestra, I’d be really interested in that.

          1. HidingInPlainSight*

            Thanks! If I’m ever tight on space it’ll probably have to go, but for now it stays because its just such a relatable and unoffensive hobby. Most people don’t hate orchestras (even if they don’t like classical music) and it doesn’t provoke a lot of jealously or anything (like people have mentioned that travel can). It also requires a weekly commitment in a way that causes others to depend on my presence, and a long-term commitment to keeping up my skill level, so I think its a little more “serious” than things like ‘amateur photographer,’ which you can always put down and pick up later if you get too busy.

            I have other hobbies, but none of them are really resume-worthy, so orchestra is the only one that ends up on there. I think it’ll come off though when I need to make room for more professional achievements (I’m still early in my career).

          2. Stephanie*

            Interesting. Like I said, I think I had it on there when I was in college when my resume was somewhat thin. I only mention it now if an interviewer asks about hobbies outside of work or if it’s relevant to the job (like I applied for a job at Dolby and mentioned I had some musical/sound background in the cover letter).

      3. bridget*

        My theory is that it’s also connected to an underlying assumption that Law School Grades are Everything. Grades are usually the first line of a law student’s resume, so firms already think they know long before the interview that the student is in the pile of people who could do the job. So the interviews don’t have much to do with assessing skill after that, just personality.

      4. majigail*

        That seems to be an interesting way to spin it. As a hiring manager, I’m not necessarily looking for things to talk to applicants about other than how they’re going to do the job and what makes them qualified for it.
        Is a law thing or a career services thing?
        That said, a few hobbies or interests bullet pointed out doesn’t bother me, but they’ve never swayed me to hire one person over another.

        1. Elysian*

          I think its in part at least a new-lawyer thing. Most law grads don’t practice marketable skills in law skill, and firms (especially big firms) hire based on a short list of superficial things – grades and work on certain journals being the most popular two. At the highest ‘tier’ of hiring, it’s assumed that you’re qualified if you get even the first interview (because they don’t have much to go by), so most people say that the interviews themselves are about “fit” and personalities more than qualifications. It’s a silly and strange system.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I think it’s a law thing. Traditionally, big firms interview law students at the beginning of their second year of law school. At this point, the law students have very few actual skills, and many of them don’t know anything about corporate law or litigation. The firms assume that they will be training the students. Therefore, the interviews are to find out whether a student seems (a) smart and (b) fun to work with. As bridget says, grades do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to (a), so much of the interview is going to focus on (b).

    4. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      It’s also important to list relevant, and only apolitical items.

      If your interests include volunteering for some type of charity, physical fitness, photography, travel, chess, woodworking, and someone mentioned having attained the rank of Eagle Scout – that is RELEVANT… ok…

      But if your hobbies are Star Trekking, collecting comic books, Rocky Horror, and working for anti-gun legislation or marijuana legalization -no, don’t include those.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Eh, it really depends. If you’re applying for advocacy or political jobs, working on political issues is highly relevant.

        (Also, a majority of Americans now favor marijuana legalization so it’s hardly the black mark it used to be.)

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Obviously – if you’re applying for a political / lobbying position, your political activity SHOULD be listed… but not if you’re applying for another field. For instance , IS/IT jobs, I don’t want to know your politics.

          Legalizing weed may be favored by many Americans (I don’t know if it’s a MAJORITY but I’m not going to argue that) ….. however, it could very well be a black mark because such discussion in an application might show faulty judgement. A manager might be in complete agreement — but will scratch his/her head if someone listed that as a personal interest when applying for a job.

        1. Corporate Attorney*

          At least Star Trek and comic books would be interesting to hear about. A stranger’s interest in “travel” (which, for most law students, means the semester spent studying abroad in Seville) is NEVER interesting to hear about (at least in my experience).

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          The oddball factor. Few will think that working out, or getting in the RV or car and going somewhere is odd.

          Some might think being in a Star Trek club or collecting comic books is weird. I’m not knocking it, but some will.

          1. Green*

            Law firms are full of nerds. If you put that you like Star Trek, we can talk about ComicCon or how I follow George Takei on Facebook and got my father-in-law “eau myyyyy” for Christmas and how Patrick Stewart is just the best at life and then I might remember you. If you put that you like “working out”, what are we supposed to talk about? “Yayyyyyyy crunches…”? You would almost universally rather be “Trekkie Guy!” than “Um, bland person who exercises sometimes?” when we’re talking about you later.

            1. Stephanie*

              If you put that you like “working out”, what are we supposed to talk about? “Yayyyyyyy crunches…”? You would almost universally rather be “Trekkie Guy!” than “Um, bland person who exercises sometimes?” when we’re talking about you later.

              This literally made me LOL. Yeah, I only think exercise is interesting to talk about if you do some really niche exercise or are really good at your chosen exercise (like you bellydance or were an Olympic-level sprinter).

              1. Green*

                Well the other things we’re thinking are (1) “Oh, I had time to exercise too… back in law school.” and (2) You’re either going to get fat in biglaw like half of us or maintain your weight by living on a diet of only caffeine.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        This all depends on which aspects of yourself you want to advertise. I went to school with a woman who scheduled all of our study meetings around her sci-fi club. Sci-fi and fantasy were a huge part of her life, and it made sense to put that on her resume: if a firm didn’t want to hire geeks, she would have been a really bad cultural fit. Not only was it something to talk about with interviewers (who might be Trekkies too!), but it helped her find a place where she would be happy.

  2. BadPlanning*

    I think this also bounces off of a lot of people’s “unattainable dreams” list which can broker jealousy. The OP can’t magically fix that, but if the interviewers are delving into the travel, I think I would emphasize the planning portions (or more boring parts). The interviewer may feel better about their own insecurity about not bopping around the world. When they are reminded it’s not merely bopping around the world. It’s planning locations, budgets, insurance, vaccinations, back up plans, phone cards, lost luggage, etc.

    1. JC*

      +1. If I heard that someone left the workforce to travel a year, my first thought would be, “Wow, it must be nice to be able to afford to do that for so long,” rather than to be impressed by what they might have learned. Spending a year traveling is so far off the radar of anything I’d do that I’d naturally start categorizing someone with that in their cover letter/resume as “not like me,” which can count against you (even if it shouldn’t).

      I know that there are a ton of reasons why someone might be able to afford to travel for a year, and that someone isn’t super privileged for being able to do it. But I still think that’s what my gut reaction would be without knowing anything else about the person.

      1. Traveler*

        This too. I think people assume you’re independently wealthy and don’t need a job, when in reality, traveling – depending on where you go, can be significantly cheaper than living/working in the US and countries like it.

      2. Erica*

        I’m glad you at least acknowledge your prejudice.

        FWIW, I took eight months after college to teach English in Ecuador. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it pays enough to live on and travel locally in a developing country. I left the US with $1000 in my pocket and came back with $800. Traveling doesn’t necessarily require much money, though it does require some tolerance for risk and a lack of major financial obligations back home.

        1. JB*

          Traveling to another place and working there may not take a lot of money, but taking a year off, traveling, and not working does take money. Not only do you have to have enough money for your expenses while traveling, but you have to have enough money to meet obligations back home. Student loans, storage for your stuff, possibly car insurance if you have a car, medical insurance if you aren’t on someone else’s plan, stuff like that. So you have to have money for that, too. That’s one reason why, although I liked the idea of backpacking across Europe right after college, it couldn’t happen for me. I just couldn’t afford it.

          There is absolutely some element of privilege to be able to take that time off and travel. You don’t have to be rich to do do it, but you almost always have to have some sort of cushion or safety net.

          1. Elysian*

            Yeah, the opportunity cost of these kinds of trips has always been too high for me. In high school I worked all summer while a friend went to “free” leadership camp, and he never seemed to grasp that going to “free” camp was a net loss for me because I wouldn’t be able to earn money while I was not-spending it. I think I called him the day I learned the words “opportunity cost” in college econ because I thought, ‘egad, maybe I can finally explain this to you!’

          2. MW*

            You’re right that you “have to have some sort of cushion or safety net” to do this, but I wish we could also acknowledge that some people work really hard to build that cushion.

            When my husband quit his job to stay home with our daughter, people kept telling us “you’re so lucky!” Yes, luck plays into it in that we weren’t struck by a horrible accident that drained all our savings or rendered him physically unable to do so, but the fact of the matter is, we saved for YEARS and made a lot of decisions based on our plan being him quitting his job to be the primary caretaker for our child.

            So maybe instead of assuming people who do this are independently wealthy or whatever else, we can all take a step back and think “wow, I should try to be that conscientious about making my dreams happen.”

            1. Traveler*

              + 1 This is a huge pet peeve for me. It’s not about privilege or luck – it’s about making it a priority. For some people they make it a priority to buy a house (or a car or any large expense) – that can cost your tens of thousands in down payment, for some people they make it a priority to have a kid – they save and skimp and work hard to afford that – for others its travel or a hobby.

              We shouldn’t be telling people they’re lucky – we should be complementing them on working so hard to achieve something they decided was a priority in their life.

              1. Elysian*

                Can’t it be both? Can’t you be both lucky and privileged to have been set up for success on this front, and then you also worked hard to turn that privilege and luck into your dreams? No one is saying that people who prioritize travel don’t work hard, but I think its disingenuous to deny that privilege or luck have anything at all to do with it. Acknowledging the privilege doesn’t diminish your hard work.

                It’s true that there are a lot of people who complain about not being able to travel who just don’t make it a priority in their lives, or who prioritize other things harder. But it’s also true that there are people that, not matter how hard they work, are unlikely to be able to travel extensively for whatever reason (disability, pre-existing debt, familial obligations beyond their control, inability to get a passport, lots of other things).

                So while I get your point, it is at least a little about privilege and luck.

                1. Traveler*

                  Oh – of course. I think just being born in a country like the US is a serious dose of privilege and luck. And certainly there are people who are in situations that things like travel are not options for them.

                  My problem is when its an apples to apples comparison – and that’s who I hear it from almost exclusively. When someone who has chosen to spend their money on other things (which is just fine – we all have our own values and priorities) tell me I am “lucky” for getting to move around and travel so much. Well, I’m not lucky – I gave up other things (tangibles like large houses and new cars or intangibles like being with family at the holidays) to be able to do that. In some cases I worked more than one job, and saved for it for a long period before. It’s insulting when that is dismissed with a “lucky” or “must be nice”.

                2. Natalie*

                  It’s absolutely both. One has to be at a certain base level of privilege in order for prioritizing A B or C to have any affect. For a large number of people, this wouldn’t be possible regardless of how committed or hardworking one was.

                3. Treena Kravm*

                  ^^ This. I have 25 first cousins who all grew up with the same relative privilege I had, some even more. I’ve lived for several years abroad and have traveled pretty extensively while all of my cousins have been on maybe a cruise and one Eurotrip. Every family gathering I go to, there’s always some comment on how lucky I am to be able to travel and live in all these places. Um no. I don’t own a home, am never having children, and my car is 15 years old. Not having those three expenses/obligations allow me to move every 1-3 years to a new exciting place and travel in between.

                  Elysian is right in that a large chunk of it is due to privilege. My husband works remotely, earning the majority of our household income and it allows him to go wherever I end up work-wise. We’re married, white, college-grads and that helped us a LOT to get our awesome jobs that we love. But only similarly-privileged people ever comment on how “lucky” I am to travel, with that distinct edge of jealousy in their voices.

            2. Just Visiting*

              I wish we could also acknowledge that some people work really hard to build that cushion.

              HELL YES. My spouse and I moved cross-country without jobs waiting on the other end, and we saved money over years — years!! — to do it using extreme frugality. At one point we both had fairly well-paying jobs, and we managed to bank one complete income and a quarter of the other. It’s quite frustrating to have people act like you’re a secret trustifarian instead of acknowledging that you’re just really good at saving money and paying down debt (which means by extension, that they’re bad at it). One of my acquaintances at my old workplace, who was a pay grade above me, couldn’t understand how we managed to save so much escape money (we had two years’ of expenses) when they were living paycheck to paycheck. This acquaintance went to bars several times a week, had a new car, bought clothes for full price, etc. It grinds my gears to be told that I’m “privileged” for always having a safety net by people who I know for a fact make more money than me and were raised in the lap of luxury. The truth is, most healthy single people with a professional job without a lot of debt CAN save buckets of money if they try. The OP likely lived like a Depression-era grandmother for seven years to seize this travel opportunity and she should be lauded for it, not treated like she’s an out-of-touch snob. Although to be fair, I feel out of touch with people who make six figures and blow it on cosmetics and clothes.

              1. Anx*

                I think if you don’t have any special living costs or dependents and you have a professional job, you can save only if you find full-time and continuous employment. I think it also helps to make at least 5 figures, and I’d say in most parts of the country you’d need at least $20,000

                1. Just Visiting*

                  Well, yeah, that’s implied. (Although when I was single and living with a roommate my living expenses were way below 20k, and even my husband and I together, our living expenses aren’t that high.) Right now we’re trying to make the dual PT/”gig economy” thing work and aren’t really concerned about saving. This is the first time in my life I haven’t been excessively saving for something, even if that something is “freedom from working for a few months if I get laid off.” The best saving advice I ever got was to decide what your lowest standard of living is, live that way, then continue living that way even when you make more money. I admit it isn’t for everyone.

                2. Anx*

                  Oh okay.

                  I just know some people ask me why I haven’t started a retirement fund yet, and to just live a little more frugally, and I don’t think they understand how hard it is to save on 4 figures.

                  Ahh, good luck on the gig thing. I’m only working 14 hours and a 20 hour opportunity opened up, but while I can find the time, I just can’t find the time in the right hours (I also have classes).

              2. MK*

                Your assumptions about how the OP could afford a year of travel is equally prejudiced as an assumption that she must be rich and lucky. And your personal values are not a universal truth; I for one wouldn’t feel compelled to praise someone who lived like a pauper for 7 years to afford 1 year of leisure, though I respect a person’s right to choose to do this.

                However, that’s beside the issue. The OP didn’t say she was dealing with prejudice from people who assume she is a spoiled rich kid or something. If I understand the letter fully, there are people who think ”a year of travel” is a fabrication to cover up longtime unemployment and/or being fired and there are also people who are questioning her work ethic. The last one, though unfair, is not as crazy as the OP seems to think; she chose to prioritise an extra-curicular interest (travel) and put her career on hold to pursue it. It’s not insane for a perspective employer to think that maybe she isn’t as passionate about her career. There are even people who do this regularly: work a few years, save money, pursue non-job-related dream, and then repeat the circle.

            3. Purr purr purr*

              I totally agree MW! I moved to Canada and heard the ‘You’re so lucky!’ so many times. No, it’s not luck. I picked a subject I enjoyed that I knew would also get me a job out here, I worked for four years to gain experience back home, I saved like crazy (more than $50,000), I filled out all the paperwork and then out I came. It hasn’t been easy and there certainly wasn’t any luck involved! Same with all my travelling – I had to work really hard to earn that money to pay my way (84 hours a week kind of deal) and it wasn’t luck.

              Personally, for the OP, I’d be *more* likely to hire her because of her travels. To me, it shows a degree of planning, ambition, measured risk-taking, and a capacity and willingness to do something more out of the ordinary.

          3. Apollo Warbucks*

            I saved some money and went backpacking on the other side of the world I was 19. I didn’t have any commitments at home, but I didn’t have a safety net or cushion either (I hadn’t spoken to my dad in years and my mums last words to me before I left were, don’t stuff up I can’t bail you out) it was the best 18 months of my life I picked up work as I went and learnt so much from the experience.

            Last year I took almost two months off and went across Europe my boss was really supportive and let me take the time but again I saved up for ages and did the trip as cheaply as possible buying a inter rail pass and mainly camping, eating picnics in the park for lunch and cooking my own meals at the campsite for dinner, spending money on museum entry and sightseeing and the occasional restaurant meal.

            I dont have a privileged background but travelling means a lot to me so I make it happen.

      3. Lily in NYC*

        Am I reading this properly – are you saying you would have a difficult time hiring someone you consider to be more privileged than you? When someone says “it must be nice” my hackles are immediately raised. You know what? It IS nice. And good for her; I hope she had a fabulous time.

        1. JC*

          Nope. I was honestly saying what I think my gut reaction would be, upon first reading it on someone’s resume without having ever met them and knowing anything else about them. I certainly would not consciously hold it against someone if I was hiring. But that doesn’t mean that the hiring managers for the jobs the OP is applying to don’t have those kinds of initial biases too, and biases can affect who we hire.

          1. Sam*

            I think it was very decent of JC to be honest and self-aware about that gut reaction and underlying bias. Just because JC wouldn’t act on it doesn’t mean others wouldn’t, and it’s something to consider.

      4. Jessica*

        Agreed. I would have no problem with somebody telling me they took of a year to travel *when asked*, but putting it on your resume comes across as bragging. It’s not an achievement, really, more a combination of luck and privilege.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          It’s important to explain that gap, though. I agree with Alison that listing what you she learned may be useless or silly, but having it in a “other interests” or similar section wouldn’t be out of line.

        2. Purr purr purr*

          Sorry, I’ve got to disagree. Money for travel usually comes from saving, which usually means denying yourself the luxuries other people enjoy. I travel *a lot* and I drive an old banger of a car, don’t go out much, don’t buy new clothes that often, etc. Saving takes sacrifice. Being ‘lucky’ to be able to travel would mean having money because that person just won the lottery or just got a nice little inheritance; everything else was a decision and reflects priorities.

  3. Sarahnova*

    As someone who quit my job to travel for six months – Alison is right about your resume. It’s not an achievement, and you didn’t do it for achievement points. Take it off.

    My only mention of it was under “Career History”, where I entered the dates and captioned it “Career Break – Planned career break for travel”. Re: the questions – “how do we know you won’t do this again?” – I’m afraid you simply have to answer those on their merits. Explain that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that you are eager to get back to work. You may also want to have prepared answers to “why did you do it at this point?” and “why aren’t you looking to return to your previous employer?” They are fair questions, and are probably best answered with the same mix of honesty and tact as “why did you leave your last job?”

    Also, you only just got back. Give it time. I had a lot of interviews after I got back, but it took a few months to get an offer I wanted – and I DID have to answer those questions. This is, unfortunately, the price you pay, especially in a culture like law in the US.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      OP, it will be really helpful if there’s a specific reason you took the year off when you did. You shouldn’t need an excuse for prioritizing travel, but had you just passed some life milestone? Were you laid off? Had you saved up enough money at a lucrative firm job, and now you’re trying to transition to a different kind of work? Were you trying to travel before having kids, or before your parents got old?

      I wouldn’t put any of this in your resume or cover letter, but as Sarahnova says, you want to have a prepared answer to questions about why you traveled when you did and why you’re not planning to leave again anytime soon.

      1. Allison*

        +1 if I was considering a candidate who’d taken a year off to travel, I’m going to ask why. There are plenty of explanations I’d accept, but I’d still ask.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was thinking along the same lines. If I asked, “why did you take a year off to travel?” I’d be satisfied with a response of, “I always wanted to travel to Freedonia since I was young. I had been saving for 10 years to make this happen. My previous employer was supportive of this dream and understood that I would be leaving when I did. It was a smooth transition. I am lucky that I had the opportunity to travel, and complete this task. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and now I am ready to get back to work.”
        1. This was something they planned for a very long time. 2.Their employer was in the loop. 3. and it was a once in a lifetime trip.

      3. Sarah*

        Yep. I moved to NZ for 6 months and a potential employer asked, “You say you’re committed to the idea of working hard, but taking 6 months to travel doesn’t seem to square with that. How do I know you mean it?”

        I was honest – part of the move to NZ had been to move there permanently, so I listed the things I’d done to that end. Then I realised I didn’t want to be there and I really wanted to be close to friends and family, so I was excited to be home and to get a chance to settle into a career.

        It worked and they moved on. OP, just be sure to have a quick sentence or two ready about this and it should be fine in interviews.

  4. ThursdaysGeek*

    If, after only 3 weeks back in the country, you already have enough interviews and responses to suspect that this is somehow working against you, you’re getting a huge and wonderful response to your resume and cover letter.

    1. Sarahnova*

      FWIW, when I did this, I started applying before I returned to my native soil and had an interview scheduled before my flight back landed – but yes, I agree it’s way too early to make a definitive judgement, and if you’re getting responses already it’s a pretty good sign!

  5. Elysian*

    I agree with AAM entirely. I recall a post a while back about students who list travel abroad on their resume, and there were very strong mixed reactions. Like Alison says, travel is personally valuable, and except in some limited circumstances, not professionally value. I would explain why you haven’t been working, but don’t try to turn a year-long vacation into a professional growth experience unless you were doing something professionally-focused.

    1. Mia*

      You can’t be serious that it’s a “year long vacation”? Traveling is more challenging than professional work. It takes more commitment, dedication and sheer risk to accomplish something that like 0% of the US population can achieve.

      How many of you are JD’s and passed the bar? I’m willing to bet it’s a higher percentage than 0

  6. Traveler*

    There’s tons of advice out there from people who have taken this kind of career break and successfully transitioned back into the work force. I recommend checking some of that out, if you haven’t already.

    I’d say where you’re going wrong is by overemphasizing the career break. You need to spin it positively, but I wouldn’t be letting it take up as much real estate as it sounds like you’re letting it have in your cover letter and resume. You don’t need to talk about what you learned overseas, just that you took a voluntary break and are ready to re-enter the work force. If you want to use those examples in the actual interview where they apply – i.e. someone is asking you directly about it, then go for it.

    And, as a side note, good for you for doing this. I wish the culture in the US supported this more.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I wondered this too. It may be perspective–if you’ve only just returned, of course this is still a huge, life-changing experience for you. But for employers, they’re likely less interested in the lessons you learned overseas (which can trip some irritation-meters), and more interested in what you can do for them–which would necessitate a focus on your employment history, not your personal history.

      1. Traveler*

        Yes. Honestly, and I hesitate to say this because I think I am lucky and possibly rare, I’ve never even had employers question my career breaks that I’ve taken to do things like travel. I always rehearsed an answer, but it just never came up – other than as a brief explanation for why I left a job. They were just focused on the skills I had that they wanted and my ability to do them.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Truthfully, on the far side I’m not sure I really learned anything of benefit to my employers anyway. I think I got a deeper insight into some different cultures, but if I worked closely with those cultures, I’d probably have got it that way anyway. So far, better understanding how “face” works in, say, Vietnam and Cambodia has not proved useful in any meaningful way. But it would be pretty disingenuous of me to pretend that I spent six months travelling for the future good of my employers, so.

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s one of the drawbacks for the OP’s current package–its prominence suggests she considers this a plus for her candidacy, and not only isn’t it a plus, it’s raising eyebrows that she thinks it would be. As mentioned upthread, it could be different if she were now fluent in Mandarin or something as a result, but I think she’s mistaking how much she feels like it changed her for how much somebody hiring her should value it.

          2. Traveler*

            Agreed. There’s a lot that was very good for me as a person, but has no direct basis for my career. Even when it is career related, I don’t say anything unless there’s a direct question because it’s a difficult thing to execute without sounding pretentious.

  7. Wilton Businessman*

    As an employer, I have lots of people to choose from. Am I going to choose the person who is currently working and is up on what happened in the field or am I going to take the person who has been out of touch for a year?

    Not everybody is going to choose the first, but the people who are going to choose the second are fewer. Sometimes much fewer depending on the field.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Of course, three weeks in today’s market is nothing. Good people with good experience take 5 months to find a job.

    2. Purr purr purr*

      That’s my biggest annoyance! I was recently told that because I hadn’t done a certain type of work in the last three years, they weren’t interested in interviewing me. I had done that work for four years, knew it like the back of my hand, had significantly more experience in the work than any of their other employees and more than they wanted, I can remember the work with ease yet somehow that wasn’t good enough. I think that sort of attitude is a little short-sighted to be honest.

      1. Hillary*

        A couple years ago I would have agreed 100%. But now… Monday I’m going to an all-day refresher about an area of compliance that I knew like the back of my hand four years ago. It’s slipped back into my responsibilities after some turnover. I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve forgotten. I usually know the answer, but it’s taking too long to get to how and why.

      2. Liz in a Library*

        Depends a ton on the field, though. Fast moving fields can become almost unrecognizable within a year or two, and it would be bad not to acknowledge that.

  8. Artemesia*

    It is difficult to break into law firms mid career; firms don’t like to hire people who come in ahead of their junior associates but who are not rain makers. Mid career without clout is just awkward in the law firm hierarchy. Most mid-career hires are for people with particular skills they are seeking e.g. they need a real estate guy or a tax guy and look for someone currently demonstrating expertise there or they look for someone who can bring in clients. 7 years is too senior and not senior enough.

    On top of that of course the advise on not making a big kerfuffle about what you learned on vacation is wise. There are careers where there kind of break is rather normal but law is not one of them, so focusing on what you bring to the table for the employer is critical with as little focus on the long vacation as possible. It is too bad — we would all be better off with a year off for travel now and then. My husband took 3 mos off from his law firm — but even that was difficult and he was a partner.

    1. Not telling*

      Three weeks is nothing in a job search, 7 years is an awkward growth stage in any billable-hour profession, and with that much professional experience there absolutely should not be any room on your resume for anything other than professional accomplishments and experience.

      The cover letter explanation needs to be kept to one sentence. Don’t use the phrase ‘ready to return to work’ because the word ‘ready’ suggests that you left work because you WEREN’T ready. Simply state that after a year of personal travel you are now seeking full-time employment in a position which…(fill in the blank)

  9. MaryMary*

    I didn’t travel the world, but I deliberately left OldJob and took a couple month break before starting to look for another job. It was risky, but I’m lucky both that I had the ability to do it and that it worked out long term. What helped me when I was job hunting was to emphasize how the position I was applying for was different from the one I left and why I was excited about this opportunity. I talked about how the break had allowed me to rethink my career and priorities and why I was now choosing to concentrate on X. I think it helped me come off as less flighty and less likely to up and quit again in a couple of months.

    1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Oh, I agree with that – another thing that people often take mid-career, is a six-week sabbatical. I wish I had done that at least once in the last 10 years or so, but didn’t do so…

  10. Anon today*

    Would there be any type of job that would involve travel that would fit with your work history? I know someone who did this, then found a consulting job that sent her on assignments overseas. She works 6 weeks (with long hours, including weekends), then gets 2 week off to return home (but in her case she uses it to continue traveling and exploring the area she is in now). As a perk she ended up making much more than she was previously paid and most living expenses are paid during her 6 weeks of working.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Any international development job, or international non-profit. International business, etc.

  11. Maddy*

    I totally agree that hobbies and families don’t belong anywhere near resumes — but what about community involvement? I’ve been invited to sit on one of my city’s volunteer citizen committees, the focus of which is access for people with disabilities and therefore tangentially relevant to my work (museums). I feel like that would be a good role to include, but in a volunteer section perhaps? What do people think?

    1. Sherm*

      I have an “outreach” section on my resume, and I’ve never received any negative feedback about it. I suspect it helps “humanize” me. And I feel that some interviewers were grateful that the information was there, because they ran out of things to say, and instead of an awkward silence they can ask about the times I’ve worked with kids, etc.

    2. LBK*

      I think volunteer work is generally accepted as beneficial on your resume (as long as it’s not occupying space that could be taken up by work experience).

      1. Maddy*

        Yeah, I typically have a “volunteer experience” section where I include internships, museum volunteer work, and stuff that’s very related. The committee is outside of my field, but I feel like it’s still doing valuable “work” that employers would like to see.

        Since most of my volunteer experience is from before I started working full time, it’s getting a bit dated. I’ll probably need to pull it off eventually but I have some really well-known museums in that section and I feel like the name recognition helps catch people’s eyes!

        1. Not telling*

          If someone told me they had SEVEN YEARS of experience and then had gained skills like diplomacy, resourcefulness, organization and planning (all the usual buzzwords) during the past year of travel, I would wonder what the heck they’d been doing in those seven years, if they’d just now acquired these skills. If OP genuinely had these skills before the trip, then I suggest dropping the buzzwords like ‘achievement’ and just say you took a year off of working for personal reasons.

          While I wouldn’t go so far as others and say I would reject an applicant for a gap year out of hand, it would be a flag, and I’d look at the rest of the resume. Did the applicant hold down ONE job for all seven years? Or are they a job-hopper in addition to a continent-hopper? Did they change majors in college? Or institutions? Is there anything else on their resume to suggest that they are firmly rooted and will stick around? Perhaps OP’s problem isn’t the year of traveling but the bigger picture it paints.

  12. Stephanie*

    Yeah, I don’t know if planning personal travel is really an achievement, given that everyone has to plan travel (whether abroad or just to go to a distant relative’s for Christmas). I agree with everyone that wishes US culture would change with regard to this.

    Is there a way you could show you’re keeping current with the field? Maybe show you’ve taken some CLE credits or volunteer in some capacity?

    (Also, not Season 3! The Jackie, Jr. subplot was so bad.)

  13. GrumpyBoss*

    People are going to disagree with me on this one, but I don’t care.

    I hired someone once who had just taken an 18 month trip around the world. She swore it was her life dream, that it was an itch that needed to be scratched, but now she was ready to pursue her career. 1 year later, she quit with no notice to go to Everest base camp. This was evidentially her new dream. She had never climbed before, but thought it would be an exciting place to learn. Her flaky behavior really screwed me and her coworkers over at a critical time.

    I won’t take the chance again. Sorry, OP. You will be judged by some on this. I have no advice for you because after getting burned, this is one of my triggers for instant disqualification.

    1. Allison*


      But seriously, that does make sense. It’s not fair, but it’s also really hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been burned before. That said, this is when circumstances really come into play. There are people who quit their jobs when they decide there’s some big adventure they just have to go on, and there are people who go on those adventures when they’re fired or laid off and see an opportunity to do something else for a while before looking for a new job.I’d consider the latter, but I don’t blame anyone for seeing the former as a flight risk. Who’s to say they won’t do it again?

    2. Clover*

      This kind of thinking really annoys me. I get where you’re coming from but you are holding potentially great candidates accountable for the actions of that one flaky employee. I recently applied for a job that would have required an out of state move and didn’t get it. When I asked for feedback I was told I was their top choice but because they had previously hired someone who had moved for the job, not settled well into the new area, and then quit and moved back to where they had come from they were too nervous to hire me. I get how frustrating that first experience was for them, but I’m not that person, don’t hold their behavior against me!

      1. Colette*

        The problem is that a hiring manager has no way to know that you’re not going to do the same thing, so it’s in your best interests to mitigate those concerns as much as you can.

        In the case of moving out of state, you may not even know how well you’ll like it there, especially if you have no ties to the area and haven’t made that kind of move before.

        1. Michele*

          I was a hiring manager that had this happen. I even called her prior to HR extending an offer and had a long conversation about making the move to NYC. We were not offering any type of relocation package and I was 100% honest about how expensive it is to live here. She assured me that she wanted to make the move. Within the first couple of months I knew in my gut that she would probably not last a year. Less than 6 months in the position she gave notice and moved back to Dallas. While this did not techincally cost the company money in terms of relocation it definitely has me shy away from candidates that are not local!

          1. Lily in NYC*

            But what about the vast majority of people who make the move and thrive? This attitude makes zero sense to me. We have quite a few actors and playwrights working as admins here. There was one guy who was an absolute disaster and we fired him. If I thought in that vein, we would have never hired the other ones, who are all fabulous. All of them.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              From a hiring manager’s perspective, there might be other potential hires who are equally awesome but who don’t come with the same set of potential risks.

              I’m not saying this is the right way to proceed, but I do think “we would have missed out on these great hires” doesn’t necessarily speak to the problem hiring managers have with this stuff.

          2. GrumpyBoss*

            I’ve learned the hard way that offering some relo, even if it a couple thousand bucks, helps so much in this scenario. There’s usually a payback period (12 months seems standard in my experience), and that makes sure the person moving has a little skin in the game.

            I have a happy story around this, to offset my negativity above. I had a younger employee move to the DC area for a job. I kicked in a couple grand to cover his moving expenses (I think $5k). 6 months in, he told me he was struggling to make ends meet, and said he didn’t want to leave because he wouldn’t be able to payback the $5k. 1 month later, he met a really nice girl, fell in love, and realized he could afford to live there, now that he has a roommate. He jokes around that if he had no obligation to stay there, he would’ve never met her. That story always makes me smile during the tough days.

            1. Dan*

              I work in suburban DC; my first job gave me relo. It was totally unexpected, and I would have moved on my own. Oddly, it was dirt cheap — professional movers cost $1500 driving from Cincinnati.

              But during my interview, when the boss asked about salary, I told him I knew what competitive salary ranges are nationally, but given the COL here (I had previously worked 2/10ths of a mile from the office) I wasn’t going to name the bottom end and be held to it.

              I got a really nice offer, better than I expected.

            2. Treena Kravm*

              My resume has 3 states, and 5 cities on it, so it’s clear that I’m a mover. When I was hired, I was upfront that I would be staying for at least two years but then I would be making plans for grad school and my manager had no problem with that. My 10 year plan consists mostly of grad school, several 1 year fellowships/contracts, and 1-2 full time jobs for 2-3 year chunks of time, so my resume is going to be all over the map, literally.

              I’m the type of person who would never quit a job because I “didn’t like” the area I was living in. In fact, I hate the city I live in now but I LOVE my job so I’m staying until it’s time for grad school. For future full-time job search, I plan on being frank in that I don’t plan on settling into that city for life, but I do want to make a commitment of 2-3 years minimum because I’d like to really get into the work and get a lot done in the role (non-profit work).

              If I were applying for a job with you, would that mitigate concerns, or would it not matter at all? What could I say proactively to help mitigate concerns?

          3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Wayy–yyy back in the 1980s – my area of the country was going through a boom period. I’m in the Boston area – where living costs aren’t that of New York or LA but they are relatively high. But so are the salaries.

            We experienced the “Strike it Rich” syndrome here – people flocking to Boston thinking all their problems would be solved — not realizing the costs of living are nowhere nearly as low as they are in Texas. On my new employee orientation with a company in 1987, there was a guy from Texas – an engineer – who was hoping to find a single-family home in a bedroom community for $75,000. I advised him that there is nothing in that particular town for under $200,000 (double that today).

            Re “Strike it Rich” = a TV show from the 1950s =

            There’s a political movement in my neighboring state = the “Free State Project” – a libertarian-based move – where thousands of people “took the pledge” to move to New Hampshire for “Liberty in this lifetime” … it fizzled and became a state-wide joke – few who “pledged” knew of the actual living costs in New Hampshire — and its REAL taxation levels.

        2. Ezri*

          I’m glad you brought up mitigating concerns, since that’s a great way to describe this situation. A large travel break *could* indicate problems with a job candidate’s work ethic, and in that sense it’s not unreasonable that a hiring manager may be inclined to choose the candidate who hasn’t taken a year off over the one who has. Especially if she had GrumpyBoss’ experience.

          It’s rough on both sides, since it’s hard for a hiring manager to judge (‘was it just a one-time trip or is she going to run out on us?’) and it’s unfair to good candidates who have these warning signs and miss opportunities because of them. I can’t think of a solution for OP, though, beyond what other commenters have suggested.

        3. Clover*

          I get that lots of people may not know how well they’ll cope with a move, but I have moved many times, including internationally, and would have been moving with my family for my husband’s job. I get that having had a previous bad experience with someone moving out of state and not settling well the employer would want to ask me how I expected to cope with the move, but they obviously didn’t believe my answer. It’s that stubborn decision to apply what one candidate did to all candidates, despite any contradictory evidence that I find annoying. To me it was like if they had previously had an employee who went to X school and it hadn’t worked out so they refused to hire anyone else who went to X school.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            Yes! This is basically what I was asking above. What’s considered riskier, someone who has moved a lot but isn’t a job-hopper (2 years minimum or if shorter, because it’s a contract), or someone who has been working in the same area for 8 years and is applying for a job out of state? I would think the latter is riskier, but maybe not if it’s assumed they’re flaky?

      2. Dan*

        In my line of work, out of state hires are the norm. (And so are paid interview expenses.) Or at least so normal, all you get is the question “you know this position is going to require relo; how do you feel about xxx town?” They do want to see you’ve thought about it. For one job, I said, “well it’s cheaper than where I live now, so I can buy a house before I’m 50. It’s also an hour from my alma mater, and I’d like the opportunity to attend more alumni events and hang out with old friends.” That did the trick.

        It’s really weird to see how it’s so *not* the norm in many industries.

    3. CTO*

      I wonder if OP could overcome some of this bias but demonstrating commitment and constancy in other areas of her life. OP, did you hold your prior jobs for a good length of time? Have you had any long-term volunteer positions?

      People like GrumpyBoss’ employee, who would take off halfway around the world without much planning or advance notice, probably demonstrate this same level of spontaneity in other areas of their life.

    4. AVP*

      I hate agreeing with this but I do, in certain ways. I think most hiring managers have specific triggers that it’s very hard to get past, based on past experiences. Mine is “former freelancers who do are professionals in more than one aspect of our field” – I’ve been burned twice by those people, and to get past me now a candidate who fit that profile would have to be 100% in every other way to even get an interview.

      In that situation, it might just be that a job you thought was perfect for you isn’t – much like finding out that it doesn’t pay as much as you’d hoped, the manager or culture is a nightmare, etc.

    5. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      In the days when I interviewed – quite often gaps were viewed as “red flags”. If someone had a four-six-nine-month unemployment gap, in a deep recession – that’s explainable, defendable, and reasonable.

      If someone had four four-month gaps in the last five years – that’s a matter of concern.

      GrumpyBoss, you might get someone who is only interested in saving up enough money for his/her next adventure, so I understand your concern.

  14. Clover*

    In the UK it’s very common to take a gap year between high school and college to travel (usually either travel and work or travel to volunteer) and I think it’s become more common recently to do a similar thing between university and starting a first graduate job. At that age it’s often seen as a positive thing by employers – you likely have some decent independent living skills if you’ve traveled without family, probably picked up some problem solving skills, learned to interact with people from different backgrounds, figured out how to handle a budget etc. For those just starting in the workforce experiences from travel can be useful things to list on resumes if there’s no, or very little, work experience to list.

    I’m not sure it works as well in someone more established in a career who has taken a year out later on to travel as most of those skills are probably things you’ve gained at that stage in life anyway. I’ve known quite a few people successfully go of and travel and come back to work at home (I’m based in UK and US and have known it in both) but generally in professions like teaching and nursing where they have gone and worked overseas for a year or two and combined that with travel and then come back to the same type of work.

    1. E.R*

      I quit my job to travel when I was 26, with a few years of work experience, and my thoughts are a bit different. In hindsight, it was really smart to get a job immediately after graduating college- employers are more enthusiastic about very recent grads, I think, and you have a combination of momentum and the benefit of the doubt from employers. Also, how do you fund a trip if you’ve just graduated college and haven’t worked at all? I’m sure it’s possible, but it would be very difficult. I saved the 3-4 years i was working for this very purpose.

      I also found it easier to get a job upon my return when I could point to a track record of success in the industry. I had to take a less-than-ideal job at first since they very best jobs either weren’t open when I returned and was looking, or were too competitive to take a career-breaker who was just coming back. But I moved to a much better job just over a year later – best job I’ve ever had, in fact.

      Taking time off to travel is an excellent life decision, even if its not the best career decision. I agree it doesn’t belong on a resume. I’ve never assumed an applicant couldn’t balance a budget or get from point A to point B without assistance, so if someone pointed out to me on a resume as a “skill”…. well, it’s largely common sense for an adult, no?

      1. Clover*

        Are you in the US? I don’t think this trend really exists in the States, but in the UK it is common. College fees are very different in the UK (cheaper and loans come from Government and are paid back differently to in the US). A lot of people fund travel by working while traveling, which is pretty easy if you are a UK citizen and want to travel in Europe or Australia/NZ (no work visa needed in EU and very easy to get for Aus/NZ). For travel in Europe there are also loads of budget airlines, hostels, etc. that make the travel aspect fairly cheap.

        I grew up in Canada/US and went the au pair route to travel when I finished high school. Earned me money and gave me a couple years to travel while thinking about what I might want to do as a career. Not common and not for everyone (it really helps if you like kids) but definitely worked for me.

  15. HRManagerNW*

    Alison is right on about the presentation. I just went through a round of hiring a few months ago and had a resume from someone who had just returned from a similar type of trip. It was really hard to get a grasp on the person’s actual work experience since the cover letter and even the resume gushed about the travel and experiences. A gap doesn’t give me initial pause if explained succinctly but this one did since the applicant was failing to keep the focus on their actual work experience and skills as it related to the position I was hiring for. If you have any professional references who’d be willing, I’d see if you can get one of them to review your materials with a critical eye and give you feedback on whether your professional story or your travel story is standing out more.

  16. Parfait*

    The good thing is that once you do finally land the next job, it’s extremely unlikely that this will be an issue in your NEXT job search, assuming you stay at your next job a while.

  17. Anon55*

    I can only speak to STEM fields but all the resumes I’ve seen which had a section for Hobbies/Interests/Travel/etc were inevitably submitted by the absolute worst candidates. For those that were hired, due to the bias of my boss at the time that white males make the best employees, they were hands down the poorest performers, would cause the most problems and were always the source of safety violations. But hey, they like to snowboard so you can chat about that while you again stay late to help them with something they screwed up because they couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t follow instructions.

    In my experience it appears to be used as resume filler which isn’t needed. We don’t expect a recent college grad with a BS to have patents and publications. Simply put down some of the classes you took that aren’t basic, any labs you did, any research projects and if it’s only one page that’s fine.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Ha ha, I didn’t know what a STEM field was, so I googled it….and yeah, I’m in one. You learn something new from AAM every day.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Lol, it was like I woke up one morning a few years ago, and suddenly everybody used the term STEM and knew what it was, except me. I had to google it too.

    2. PEBCAK*

      There was a period of time when it seemed like every entry-level resume had a marathon listed as an accomplishment. I assume candidates think it says “disciplined high-achiever,” but as far as I’m concerned it can just as easily mean “stubborn narcissist.”

      But it goes back to the same situation as the OP…mentioning it in an interests section if you are early in your career is fine, putting it in your cover letter as though it makes you a strong candidate shows pretty bad judgment.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, a friend of a friend worked as an admission officer at a top business school. I asked about her job and she was like “I’ve read so, so many essays from junior consultants about how a marathon was their greatest challenge. If you do ever apply to business school, please don’t write about your marathon.”

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Oh, that’s funny! My best friend was a recruiter for a well-regarded MBA program and had the same complaint about all the women who chose to write about Oprah when asked to do an essay about a businessperson who inspired them.

          1. hayling*

            I am probably the only person who chose a punk rocker (who started his own record label) to write about for my MBA essay!

        2. Ezri*

          That’s awesome – I’d love to give a survey to people who have to read admissions essays on ‘most overused topic’ for a given prompt. I think I’d go crazy if I had to read other people’s essays.

          1. Artemesia*

            I once read an admission essay in which the young man gave a moving first person account of his own birth. Top that.

            1. fposte*

              Fertilization? “I was both the seeker and the sought, the sole and one among many, and I felt in my union a wholeness I could not previously imagine, and yet the start of all change.”

        3. Turanga Leela*

          Pro tip: if you are applying to law school, do not write about Law & Order in your personal statement. Everyone wants to be Jack McCoy. Write about actually anything else.

      2. Jem*

        I read residency applications as part of my job (though I have no say in hiring) and there is always a section for non-professional hobbies and interests. 90% of them put running or marathons ::SNOOZE:: Last year, we had one girl apply whose hobby was stand-up comedy. I was hoping so badly they’d hire her!

      3. CheeryO*

        Ugh. I’m a runner myself, and I’ll bring it up when asked about my hobbies in professional situations, since I don’t really do much outside of work, sleeping, running, and watching TV. It’s great if the other person runs as well (or if their SO/kid/best friend does), but it always feels awkwardly loaded, since I don’t want or expect praise for exercising semi-obsessively. I know it’s a pretty common hobby to have, but I feel like it falls in with international travel as a hobby that can put you in a box, fairly or not.

      4. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I ran a marathon once, when I was young & had time on my hands to train. Will likely always be my greatest personal accomplishment. Absolutely does NOT belong on my resume.

      5. Lamb*

        Freaking exercise- it’s fine, it’s healthy (assuming good form etc.), but lately the exercisers I’ve been around are in the gym-cult, where it’s not just about exercise, it’s about talking about exercise and repeating the Gospel According to My Trainer. A friend (who joined a gym as follow up to PT) was advised by gym-cult members to bring the gym up in job interviews and commiserate with the interviewer about the exercises they both don’t like; what?! Nevermind that this friend had a great background and hobbies that outsiders are really interested to hear about as possible topics of conversation; why would it be a good idea to peg yourself as a complainer?
        TL;/DR I agree with PEBCAK that your hobbies aren’t always going to push the buttons you are hoping for with potential employers.

    3. Dan*

      A former coworker of mine in STEM sent me his resume. (Great kid, I’d hire him in 10 secs if I had the authority) He has an interests section, with some useful technical hobbies. But he also lists college activities that aren’t relevant.

      I told him it’s time to ditch the college stuff.

      When I applied for my first regular jobs out of grad school, my resume was PACKED with all kinds of real-world data analysis projects I worked on in college. My former self got that one right, at least. I got the jobs to show for it, and when I refer resumes to my boss, that’s what I look for. I need to see that students understand the realities of messy data, and have done more than mickey mouse around with canned data in Excel.

  18. AVP*

    I don’t know if this is possible in the law field, but can you concentrate on applying for jobs with companies that have ties to countries where this kind of trip is celebrated, instead of frowned upon? I’m thinking that an Australian parent company might see this as a positive.

  19. soitgoes*

    I think there’s a tendency among young-ish adults to view traveling as some magical, essential life experience, and they often view themselves as more worldly or enlightened if they’ve done some traveling. I’m not biased against people who happen to like to travel, but I AM biased against people who show signs of having that attitude. If you think it’s something to list on your resume, I’m going to assume you have that attitude. Traveling isn’t better or somehow more enriching than other types of hobbies, none of which belong on a resume either.

    1. The IT Manager*

      This is especially annoying because of what JC was talking about when he said about this being a privledge. Not everyone can afford take a “gap year” monitarily or because of family obligations.

    2. Traveler*

      I think you are more enlightened after traveling though. Maybe not “magical” but with young adults its because for many of them, they’ve had a very limited life experience so far. Everything was about life at their high school, or in the small town or suburb they grew up in – it’s the only politics and culture they know. Going outside of that, especially the first time can give you one of those “oh, wow” moments. And as we grow older, it holds less of the shock and awe factor for us and we forget what that’s like to experience those things for the first time.

      I do agree though, it is an “extracurricular” unless you work in the travel industry, and therefore doesn’t belong anywhere near a resume. The only people you’re probably going to bond with over it are the people that are as in to it as you – just like with hobbies where people who aren’t fanatics of your thing are going to think its a little off.

      1. soitgoes*

        I’m always iffy on the “enlightenment” aspect – a lot of that kind of talk often comes after a trip to a country that has an oppressive religion that doesn’t treat women all that well. I don’t view restrictive cultures as being inherently spiritual, and I’m wary of someone who holds to that ideology.

        1. Traveler*

          Enlightened might not be the greatest word – something more like “eye-opening” might be better.

      2. LBK*

        It might give you life experience, I guess, but what part of that is transferrable to working an office job? Basically nothing. I suppose there’s some minor element of adapting to a culture, but I don’t think adapting to office culture and adapting to a country’s culture are that similar anyway.

      3. Ezri*

        I’m not someone who cares much for travel (it makes me sick and miserable), so I’m a little biased. Every single one of my sisters is going through college wanting to travel after she graduates, though. It’s something that gets drilled into you as ‘what everyone does’ when you are raised middle class – at least that was true for myself and the people I knew. I personally couldn’t have afforded it when I graduated even if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t say I missed out on a necessary life experience.

        Then again, I don’t hold with the ‘you must do x and y or you AREN’T LIVING LIFE’ attitude that tends to accompany the ‘travel is so enriching’ attitude. If I was able to afford a year off work, I’d probably go on walks, get a couple more cats, and play video games the whole time. I wouldn’t say I’m less of a person than someone who would choose to go around the world, just that I have a different idea of a satisfying life. Travel is a great thing for some people, and I don’t doubt that it is mentally valuable to experience other cultures and people, but it’s not necessary to one’s life satisfaction score.

        1. Traveler*

          Oh, I am not on board with the crowd that dismisses people who don’t travel as “not living life”. What you said about different ideas of satisfying lives is exactly right.

      4. Colette*

        I agree that travel can be enlightening – it’s one of the ways you can realize that some of the assumptions you have about the way the world works are only specific to the way your part of the world works. It’s certainly not the only way, but it’s a good way to leave your comfort zone and understand a little about how other people live.

        However, that’s personal growth, not something that should go on your resume.

    3. steve G*

      I somewhat agree with you, but not totally. I think that cultural immersion/language immersion type courses, or staying with a family in another country are valuable….but when I was studying abroad one summer, all 2/3 of the people wanted to do was drink, drink, drink. We went for a weekend in Austria, and all anyone seemed to care about was when the next meal was so they could get drunk. I skipped the Budapest weekend with that group because they were more interested in clubbing there than anything else……..but I did find some people who wanted to do more “enlightening” things – we went to a concentration camp, took extra language lessons, etc….

    4. Brigitte*

      I’m not sure it’s that young adults have a greater predisposition to travel. For most people I know, it’s more of an acknowledgement that many of us don’t expect to retire. Many of my friends plan to work until they’re no longer able to. So we’re not putting off the life experiences we want to have for that magical someday when we stop working.

      1. Anx*

        I was thinking something along these lines, too. Young people may feel it’s wise to take a trip while they still can (maybe barely) afford it, don’t have dependents, are physically in the best condition for doing a lot of walking (if they can now), hostel sleeping, etc., and aren’t in management position at work or in any position in which they cannot be easily replaced/covered for a week or two.

        I can also see the appeal of looking at as a natural complement to working in positions that don’t value you sticking around. I think young people disproportionally are working in temporary, part-time, outside contractor, paid internship, positions without benefits, high pay, or anything else that expresses that long-term investment in the employment relationship is valued.

        1. soitgoes*

          I agree with the understood need to account for a missing year on your resume; employers don’t treat us well, but still expect us to have flawless work histories. But I think travel should be handled the way maternity leave is: with a single sentence in your cover letter. I get the sense that the OP might be trying to “double dip.” He did what he wanted by traveling, and now he’s trying to make it count for something in the working world too. I feel that if you consciously take yourself out of the workforce for a whole year, you need to own that decision. You can’t come back and act like nothing’s different.

    5. Dan*

      I’ve been to 21 countries. The 22nd is coming up in the Spring.

      The only time travel goes on your resume is:

      1) If you truly resided/lived abroad and have to mention it somewhere, such as education, or:
      2) I’m hiring for a foreign language position and your reference indicates some mastery of the language I’m looking for. I’d hire that person over someone whose knowledge was strictly academic, all else being equal.

  20. Tinker*

    Any time you visibly make a lifestyle choice that aims away from the ideal image of a conventionally-minded employee who has an unambiguous first priority finding a job to do / loyally doing that job, you’re going to end up flipping the arglebargle switch of some interviewers and hence are probably going to tank your chances of being employed by them. If said lifestyle choice is reasonably well-thought-out and in line with your values, though, the folks whose arglebargle switch is thereby flipped are probably skewed more toward the end of “doesn’t get on with you anyway” and/or “has sketchy boundaries” and “doesn’t get on with much of anyone too well maybe”. Plus some folks who are generally reasonable people but were frightened by a hipster backpacker as a small child or something, who actually constitute something of a loss.

    On the one hand, oh well. The broader principle that this is filed under (vis: all your life decisions will piss someone off, therefore make sure you piss off the correct people) is why I joke about planning to get a tattoo, possibly on an urgent basis, to serve as jerk detector/repellant.

    On the other hand, if you either substantially lack economic leverage or (on the other side) really do want a particular difficult-to-achieve career trajectory above and beyond everything else and are willing to go all “Devil Wears Prada” to get it — well, oops. But hopefully this is not the case.

    Aside from the question of how best to bill this item on your resume, about which I agree that “Personal Achievement” is not it, this kind of sounds like the classic three weeks into a job search feeling of trepidation to me. At least from my perspective, which is one that is very familiar with that particular feeling (“Oh gods, I should never have come out and maybe I should buy a pair of heels and maybe I really will have no choice but to move to Houston…”)

    Far as I’ve discovered so far, the only way to deal with that particular problem is to accept the feeling and keep right on grinding. Sympathy and good wishes!

  21. Beth Anne*

    This reminds me of the How I Met Your Mother episode where they still had college achievements/awards on their resumes like “Won hot dog eating contest” or “protested college.”

    1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I’ve seen some weird ones in my day, not too different from those.

  22. meetoo*

    I have never quite understood the bias against gaps on resumes wether it is for travel or “more acceptable” things like having children. Is it like some of the examples unthread employers fear that if you took time off once you are going to do it again and quit? Or that you are out of touch with what is current in the industry? People quit for lots of reasons or get promoted and leave a job open again even if it is years down the road. Does anyone have some insight about where the bias comes from in the first place?

    1. Colette*

      I’d guess:
      – out of date skills – will you be able to use the latest versions of software you last used 5 years ago? Have you kept in touch with developments in the industry?
      – motivation – why did you leave the job market? Will you want to leave again, or have trouble balancing a job with your other commitments/goals?

    2. Elysian*

      I’d add to Colette that for candidates of similar background, if A took time off and B didn’t, B will have more total experience. So its not just that people who take time off are out of touch, but also that they’re at a disadvantage compared to peers who didn’t. And if C has 10 years of experience and is just coming back after 5 years out of the workforce, and D has had 10 years of recent consecutive experience, D will appear the better candidate all other things being equal. So its not just that’s it bad on its own (for the reasons Colette said) but it can also be troublesome when you’re making comparisons between candidates at a similar level.

    3. soitgoes*

      A lot of it has to do with the limitations of small businesses. It’s unrealistic to expect them to have enough employees on the payroll to cover for others’ extended vacations. It also has to do with the fact that frequent travelers or parents in the midst of having decent-sized families are essentially job-hoppers during that span of time. You can’t hold a position open for a whole year, so these people are constantly starting over at new businesses. It’s not fair to the people who don’t travel to have certain individuals floating in and out.

  23. OP - Jon*

    Hi all,

    The original poster here. Thanks for the advice and your comments! I just wanted to give you an update. Its now been about 2 months since I’ve returned to the US and starting the job hunt and things are going well. I’ve interviewed for over 20 opportunities, and I’m on my 2nd and 3rd rounds with a few places. I’m hoping to get an offer from an opportunity right for me in the next few weeks (fingers crossed).

    As for the resume, I’m not sure I agree with Alison and others here about leaving out travel and even other personal interests completely off the resume. In fact, in my interviews, it usually allows me to build a good rapport with the interviewer and I like to think it makes me an interesting candidate. I don’t highlight it, but I don’t necessarily think I would want people to speculate as to why a gap is there. I’m sure many employers disagree, but those are likely places that wouldn’t grant me an interview, and places that I may not fit in culture-wise.

    I think it’s unfortunate that taking time off to travel is often looked upon negatively here in the US. In my year of travel, I learned that in most of the developed world (Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan) taking some time off to travel and see the world is not looked upon negatively, but is seen as an asset, regardless of the field of work. And many are encouraged to do so. I think the US is slowly going that way, but we’re far from there. I also think that I enhanced and developed real-world professional skills: communications, negotiations, logic and planning, and budgeting (all skills I use day-to-day in my line of work), and was much more than “a year on a beach” as some here seem to think.

    As for the actual travel, I just planned and prioritized for it. I lived below my means for years to save up for this, like many people do before having children or buying property (of which I have neither) and budgeted for the year of travel as well as for several months after returning to the US while looking for work. Also, like some have mentioned here, there are many parts of the world where you can live very cheaply by US standards.

    It sounds like many of you disagree, but as of now, this seems to be working for me. Hopefully my next update will be accepting a job offer!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, 20 interviews in 2 months is unusually, incredibly good.

        My hunch is that you’re getting those interviews for reasons that have nothing to do with the travel — it’s your skill set, background, reputation, and/or overall strength as a candidate. I wouldn’t want anyone to conclude from this that highlighting travel in this way = high interview rate, because I don’t think that’s the case. But clearly in your case you’re doing fine.

      2. Dan*

        While that’s friggin’ good (even for me, where I don’t feel like I have to try all that hard to get interviews) I’m a bit worried that no offers are forth coming.

        If I go on more than about 5 interviews with no offer, I’m starting to wonder what’s up. Grad school = 8 onsite interviews and 2 offers. Last round (with experience) = 3 interviews and 2 offers. I probably send out three times as many resumes as I get interviews, but my conversion rate between screen and onsite interview is really high.

        I’m worried that the OP has something else going on where 20 in-person interviews hasn’t yielded anything.

    1. LBK*

      I can get on board with some of what you’re saying even if I disagree personally, but I think this is flat-out wrong:

      I also think that I enhanced and developed real-world professional skills: communications, negotiations, logic and planning, and budgeting (all skills I use day-to-day in my line of work), and was much more than “a year on a beach” as some here seem to think.

      The issue with using these skills in a non-work context is that you have no accountability for doing them poorly, nor do you have anyone to report on your performance of these skills. It’s like people who list being a SAHP on their resume – yeah, it requires effort and you might do some similar tasks, but doing them outside of an office just isn’t transferrable to doing them in an office. The stakes are so different.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I tend to think that as a general rule, life skills tend to not belong on your resume. If you can balance a budget for a $25-million-a-year organization–that goes on your resume. Balancing a budget for your household or even your $25,000 wedding would not. Logic and planning? Yes, if you organized a major conference for work. No, if you planned your own vacation. And so on.

        1. Anx*

          Sort of random, but what if you managed a small amount of money? Perhaps a few thousand dollars for a university event in college. Would that be something to mention? I’ve never listed dollar amounts or highlighted the money aspect in the past (didn’t want to devote too much resume space to one aspect of the position). Or should the whole thing just go since I graduated 6 years ago (I haven’t found a professional job, since, though).

          1. Turanga Leela*

            Yes, mention it. I have a good friend who, as a student worker, managed a smallish budget ($5-10k) for a university program. He also supervised other student workers. He kept that job on his resume for a long time, including the size of the budget and the number of supervisees. Managing people and money are good real-world skills, and including them made it clear that his job had actual responsibilities.

            1. Anx*

              Interested. I often include a ‘campus-wide back-to-school’ event in my planning experience, but maybe I should mention the the money explicitly. It was the welcome week fair for a state university.

              1. Turanga Leela*

                I don’t know your field, and other people should feel free to disagree with me, but I would include both the budget and the approximate number of students who attended (since “campus-wide” can vary so much).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Absolutely. Additionally, these are skills that people are expected to develop and use in the course of normal life so it comes across as a little tone-deaf/naive to frame it this way in a professional context.

      3. Elysian*

        Indeed. If the OP was having trouble, I think the mistake could be assuming that skills gained while traveling make him/her more qualified for a job than someone who developed those same skills while also working for the past year. OP may personally be better off for having developed them abroad, but people who are working domestically also practice “communication” and “budgeting” and “planning,” and they probably do it in a way that is more business-oriented. WHERE you developed these skills doesn’t matter. The fact that you haven’t been using them in a business setting is a detriment, not an advantage. If you are assuming that other candidates can’t do these things as well as you because you did them abroad, that is a big problem (and a common one, and one that angers a lot of non-travelers).

        1. Aly*

          Yes, or even if you aren’t making that assumption, it could be easy to come off as though you are. This jumped out at me with the comment about learning “in my year of travel” about other cultures’ attitude toward traveling; my first reaction was that gee, I learned the same thing just fine in the US! Some of us have foreign friends and colleagues after all!

          Now, on second reading, I see that you probably didn’t mean to imply at all that this can only be learned abroad, but referencing the travel in contexts where it isn’t completely relevant (e.g. to justify how you know something about another culture) could be coming off a bit differently than you intend.

      4. Ashley*

        Exactly. I planned an awesome wedding earlier this year for my husband and myself. It involved budgeting, commnication, negotiations, time management, organization, delegation, interviewing and planning for over two years. I honestly learned a lot from it from the whole shebang, but I don’t include it on my resume because quite frankly, even if my wedding was crap it’s not like my mom is going to tell me that.

    2. Just Visiting*

      Congratulations for being able to save enough money to live your dream! Like I said upthread, my spouse and I did a similar thing (scrimped and saved to move to our dream city, without a job), it was totally worth it. The right employers will understand, and it doesn’t sound like you’re having much trouble anyway. Just remember that you wouldn’t fit in with a place that would discriminate against you for taking a gap year, so it works as a filter.

      1. LBK*

        This comment makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s one thing to filter for places that would discriminate for a gap year, but the caveat is that the OP has to be presenting herself correctly in order to be able to judge if that’s why she got turned down. The way it sounds like this is positioned now (traveling as a “Personal Achievement”) I would turn down the OP because she sounds misguided about what’s important to improving her candidacy, not because she took a year off.

        In other words, ensure that you’re eliminating as many other possible reasons to get rejected first before assuming anyone who rejects you does so because of the gap year.

    3. Joey*

      its okay to mention it superficially, but don’t frame it as some sort of achievement that applies professionally. It’s no more an achievement that taking a year off because you you always wanted to try to make it as a musician or a golf pro. It’s just going to make me think you’re itching to be somewhere else.

  24. Patty*

    I just took a year off to volunteer overseas and travel. I left my last employer on good terms. I put the volunteer job on my resume as it added to my business administration background.

    I have had zero issues with finding a position due to this and think that I would not want to work for an employer who cannot support someone making a life decision that is sound.

    That said I do think the less is more strategy is good if this was just travel no volunteering. Let them bring it up in an in person interview, have a short composed reply ready but before that only elude to it in the cover letter.

    Good luck in your search. It took me 4 months to find my dream job but it was worth it.

  25. HAnon*

    You may want to visit the site your . sabbatical . com

    They have some great blogs on the ROI of a sabbatical/how it helps to reset, refresh, earn new skills and how to negotiate for a sabbatical…some of their insight may apply to your situation and help you figure out how to position things with potential employers.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      Yeah – I was wondering if there’s any way to spin the travel as some kind of “sabbatical”?

      Count me as someone who would consider the year of travel a plus. To me, it says something about the individual’s ability to define goals, make plans, and execute.

      Re listing Personal Interests on a resume: I have to edit this to maintain anonymity, but I once saw an intern resume which mentioned that they’d spent their previous summer studying and earning a professional license (and now they were a [state] licensed [professional]), plus another thing that I can’t figure out how to anonymize but it was seriously out-of-the-ordinary and interesting. I didn’t hire them only on the basis of these items, but they certainly made this person a stand-out. And this person did an outstanding job during their internship.

      Caveat Emptor: I’m probably not normal.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Heh. Good guess, but no. Alas – I really can’t be too specific on this. Let’s just say it was something that they were doing on their own initiative, that involved computers and money (but it was not selling things on eBay or anything like that).

          For better or worse, years ago I read some stuff about how law schools decide on who to accept, and there is a thing called the Cocktail Party Philosophy, where yes, you look for good grades – but also you look for an interesting mix of people. So in addition to the ‘normal’ applicants with fresh undergrad degrees, that 35yo woman who is an ex-cop? She’s in. That distinguished looking gentleman who used to conduct the Philadelphia Philharmonic? He’s in. Etc. This is not always appropriate for a hiring situation. But I think sometimes it is.

          1. soitgoes*

            Hmmmm, that’s an interesting way of putting it, “Cocktail Party Philosophy.” I guess I’ve never interviewed at a business where these interesting quirks or experiences wouldn’t have come up during the course of the interview conversation. I still don’t think they belong on the resume.

  26. Apollo Warbucks*

    I make a passing reference to extended travel I’ve done on my CV as part of my work history and it’s always been well received but the only time I have made a bigger mention is when I applied for a 2 year secondment from London to Chicago and wanted to reassure the interviewer that I’d lived and worked abroad previously and knew what I was letting self in for.

    The references I make don’t go into detail and I don’t try to claim any transferable skills or any great learning experience, but I do think it shows a little of my personality and my interests out side work.

  27. rebecca*

    A few issues here:
    1. I am not in the legal field, but generally, I don’t give much time to resumes when the applicant has not been employed for a year. In fact, depending on the rest of the resume, I may not even make it to the cover letter to find out why they have been out of the workforce. This is going to be a barrier.
    2. Once I received a resume that included international travel. I was very turned off, despite the fact that I have also done some traveling internationally. I felt like it was very elitist. I work in the public sector, and most people in my office would not have the mean to do this. I was simply not impressed. It also had no relation to the job. As far as I am concerned, its not a skill.

  28. Deni*

    Just delete the year. It isn’t serving you any purpose. I can relate. I worked in Dubai for 5 years in a high ranking position. The kind of position I thought would get me a ton of job offers. Yet nothing came. I sent my resume to a company to make some adjustments because I was at a loss. They accidentally switched my last two jobs, so the Dubai job was now 8 years ago, versus a few months ago. The three places that I sent that resume to before catching the error gave me interviews. Once you see the discrimination, just fix it.

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