Marketing Your Experiences
When speaking to domestic or international employers, it is crucial to develop ways to market your international experience to help you get the job you desire. Articulating the skills you acquired while abroad will enhance your ability to compete as a top job candidate. Start by visiting the TLU Career Development office, then check out these tips to help you get started.
According to a mySA.com article published in 2014, employers are looking for candidates with the 3 C’s: critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. These are 3 skills you may have gained from studying abroad. Hiring officers are looking for candidates with good problem-solving abilities, the ability to work in teams, and those who have good verbal and written communication skills.
Building Upon Your Abroad Experiences
- Include your study abroad experience on your resume, and refer to it in your cover letter, portfolio, and job interviews.
- When writing a cover letter, it is important to match your skills and abilities to the needs of the employer. Use the cover letter to highlight one or two of your top skills or attributes when referring to your travel experience.
- Be prepared to speak about the specific cultural traits of your study abroad host country.
- With language skills, indicate the level of reading, writing, and speaking skills you have acquired.
- Recognize the value of the general skills you developed while abroad.
- Participate in campus or community programs that provide opportunities to practice articulating what you learned and the steps you took to gain or strengthen intercultural and professional skills.
- Be professional in describing your study abroad experience. Avoid shocking stories, or misadventures.
- Use the language of your future work. Avoid using too many names and titles that will be foreign to your prospective employer. Avoid detailed geographical descriptions.
- In dealing with international employers, don't mix personal goals with career goals. Never announce to potential international employers that your career goal is to live in Paris or to travel extensively in Asia. Employers want to hear about goals that match their skill requirements.
Skills and attributes developed through studying abroad
The skills and attributes gained while studying abroad are as diverse and varied as each individual's study-abroad experience. The following list offers examples of skills often developed through living in other countries. Have 1-2 examples ready for each skill you focus on.
Communication/ Language skills (in foreign language, if applicable)
- Overcoming language barriers
- Oral competence
- Written expression
- Listening and comprehension skills
- Vocabulary/ grammatical structure improvement
Analysis/ Problem Solving
- Capacity to ask for and receive help from others
- Willingness to confront problems and look for alternative solutions
- Ability to listen and observe carefully
- Ability to think critically
- Organizational and time-management skills
- General travel and navigational skills
Global Point of View/ Cultural Awareness
- Experience and capability in balancing two or more cultures
- Appreciation for diversity
- Cultural awareness (sensitivity to customs and cultural differences)
- Ability to interact with and relate to many different people
- Ability to perceive things from another person’s point of view
- Ability to compromise and be flexible
- Openness to new experiences and activities
- Awareness of and respect for beliefs of others
- Patience and adaptability
- Ability to keep a sense of humor in stressful situations
- Capacity to deal with failure
- Strength in handling unpredictable and unfamiliar situations
- Ease in establishing relationships with people from a different culture
- Willingness to take risks
- Awareness of personal strengths and weakness
- Self- sufficiency
- Ability to identify, set, and achieve goals
- Motivation and initiative
Examples of how to add your new skills to your resume/ cover-letter
As a result of studying abroad, I have…
Strengthened Cross-Cultural Skills
- Adapted to cultural differences and customs through daily interaction with my host family over a period of 4 months
- Overcame societal differences and fostered cultural understanding through a short-term work experience at a local business
- Gained a greater appreciation for diversity and cultural differences through voluntary service experience at a local school
Developed Language Competency/ Communication Skills
- Passed proficiency examination in [name of language] or obtained certificate for intensive language study at [name of college or institute]
- Cultivated language and communication skills through sustained dialogue with my host family and others whom I met in my host country
- Learned to use nonverbal and verbal communication to overcome language barriers
- Learned how to adapt to unanticipated situations and improvise new plans due to periodic travel mishaps and unexpected events
- Modified my way of life to maximize exposure and opportunities for learning in my local community
Please see the 75 Long-Term Outcomes from an International Experience for more skills/ attributes that you may have acquired while abroad and that could be added to your resume/ cover-letter to enhance your candidacy for a professional position.
Articulating Skills & Competencies in an Interview
A good interview is about telling a good story. It’s about weaving a narrative in response to questions about your ability to do a job, carry out your duties, and adapt to the organization and its expectations of its staff. When speaking to employers, address the value of both the general and specific skills you developed while studying abroad. It’s important not to assume that the interviewer will realize how your international experience is relevant to your candidacy.
An interviewer may provide you with an opportunity to tell a story based up on your international experience and your answers to any question should not be too short or too lengthy. Questions, such as the following, may be posed:
- What did you learn about yourself as a result of your study abroad experience?
- Why did you choose to study in [name of country]? Why was it important to you?
- How did you get engaged in the local culture outside the classroom?
- Can you describe a time when you had to change your behavior to accommodate or adjust to different local conditions?
- How much did your [language studied – if applicable] improve and how?
- You had to adjust to a different way of learning – how?
*Adapted from the Career Development Center, SUNY-Binghamton (AIFS Student Guide to Study Abroad & Career Development)
- About Study Abroad
- Study Abroad Programs
- Preparing for Study Abroad
- Returning from Abroad
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