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How working overseas can turbocharge your CV

Overseas work experience tells employers that you have the initiative, self-confidence and communication skills necessary to operate in a culture different from your own.

Whether it's pulling beers in a London pub, helping immunise children in a Kenyan village or interning at a Madison Avenue ad agency, doing paid or unpaid work outside of Australia can help you land your dream job once you've returned home.

Don't discount your overseas experience

People often fail to mention work they've done when travelling, especially if it was in an industry different to the one they're now trying to find employment in. But no matter what it was you did, overseas work experience tells employers that you have the initiative, self-confidence and communication skills necessary to operate in a culture different from your own. (This is doubly impressive if you were in a country where you had to make yourself understood in a language other than English.)

Working overseas demonstrates you're up for a challenge, able to quickly adapt to unfamiliar situations and have the interpersonal skills to work alongside those who do not necessarily share your background or belief system. These are very impressive qualities to most employers.

... But keep it relevant

If you did 30 different casual jobs while spending a year backpacking through Europe, there is no need to exhaustively list all of them. A brief summary of the industries you worked in is probably sufficient. If any work you undertook overseas can be seen to have equipped you with skills that might be useful in positions you're applying for, you should definitely highlight it. For example, constructing grain sheds for illiterate Indonesian farmers could have allowed you to develop project management skills, cross-cultural communication strategies and team-building abilities.

Travel stories don't just have to be for your friends

Overseas experience can be that extra something that catches the attention of a bored HR staffer quickly scanning a huge pile of resumés. And, once you're in an interview, your tales of working overseas – especially if you use them to illustrate your adaptability, drive and capacity to think outside the box – could be what results in the selection panel being more impressed by you than the 15 other candidates they're interviewing for the position.