So, you did it! You made the decision to study abroad and now you have the experience, and more importantly, the degree to prove it. But, this is only the beginning of the adventure. Now it’s time to put everything you learned to practice.
Whether you want to continue your education and apply for grad school or start searching for your dream job, you’re about to embark on an all new adventure. Luckily, you have a head start—employers love study abroad experience!
In addition to what you learn in the classroom, studying abroad teaches you the practical skills you need to succeed on any career path. It can be critical thinking, creative problem solving, or communicating cross-culturally. These are skills that can’t be taught through a book, but instead require first-hand experience.
That’s why employers place candidates with study abroad experience on top of the resume pile. But first, you must highlight your experience in the right way to get them to notice. A few simple tips and tricks can bring your study abroad trip front and center.
Check out our suggestions on how to put study abroad on a resume to really grab employers’ attention and get that dream job!
Highlight Your Skills
Without a doubt, your study abroad experience has prepared you with the necessary skills to handle any job that comes your way. You’ve had to research, explore, problem solve, learn, get creative, and handle change on a daily basis. Finding an apartment, making friends, getting accustomed to new cultures, figuring out the local transportation—you may not think about it, but these all take skill to navigate, and it’s not easy.
That’s why employers appreciate candidates with study abroad experience so much! Without even looking at the experience you’ve written down, recruiters know that a student with international study experience can handle almost anything.
But, it’s still important to draw employers’ attention to the fact that you studied abroad on your resume and make mention of what you believe the most important skills you’ve learned are. You can do this in a number of ways.
If you completed an internship or had work experience while studying abroad, make sure to clearly describe how you used your newly-learned skills in a practical way.
“Completed an internship while studying abroad where I used my critical thinking skills to solve complex problems, communicated with customers from around the world, and successfully navigated an international workplace.”
By emphasizing your international experience, employers will get a sense that you are able to quickly adapt and communicate with your peers no matter what situation you find yourself in.
Speak Their Language
Pick up any language skills during your study abroad experience? Create a section titled “Languages” after you’ve highlighted your academic and professional experience.
Language skills are in high-demand, especially in today’s globalized world. So, whether you picked up Spanish studying in Spain, or Chinese while getting your degree in China, it’s great to show employers that you have the skills to communicate with customers, colleagues, or business partners from around the world. As anyone who has tried to learn another language knows, it’s a long and time-consuming process that requires a lot of practice and studying. Therefore, language skills on your resume will not only show employers you have the practical skill but also that you are capable of taking on a challenge and sticking to a project.
Make sure to include the level at which you speak each language on your resume. The most common way to classify your language proficiency is to use one of the following:
- Elementary proficiency
- Limited working proficiency
- Professional working proficiency
Another option is to break your language skills down by reading, writing, and speaking ability if you feel that you are stronger in some abilities than others.
Show That You’re Social
Did you join any social activities or organizations during your time studying abroad? Or, maybe you made a whole bunch of new, international friends and professional contacts?
Multicultural communication is one of the most important skills in global work environments. If you took part in social activities with other international students, then take the chance to show employers you have the special ability to make connections with people from all walks of life.
Show your participation in an organization, especially if you started or ran the group. Employers will also get the chance to see your leadership potential.
If you don’t have one already, consider creating a LinkedIn profile to connect with all the new professionals you meet. It’s a great way to expand your network and showcase your experience at the same time. Plus, it’s a great way to hear about work and internship opportunities and apply to them directly.
Consider Cultural Differences
It’s likely you know how to craft at least a basic resume in your home country. But, do you know what an employer in the United States, Germany, or Japan will be looking for when you apply for a job or internship?
It might not seem obvious at first, but the standard resume looks different from country to country. So make sure you do your research before handing yours in.
For example, in many European countries it is common to include a picture attached to your resume. However, in the United States including a picture is much less common and could be seen as a breach of equal opportunity hiring practices.
Take Our Tips to the Interview
You increase your chances of grabbing an employer’s attention when you put your study abroad experience on a resume in the right way, but that’s only the first step. It’s just as important to also highlight your international experience during your interview.
You can get the conversation started from the very beginning when the employer asks you to talk a little bit about yourself. Casually mention that you studied abroad, and don’t forget to name the city and country where you stayed. It’s a great segue into discussing more about your study abroad experience, including what you enjoyed, what you learned, and what issues you learned to handle.
You never know, your interviewers might have studied abroad themselves or have at least travelled to your study abroad destination. If you can make a personal connection like that, you’re likely to stick out from the crowd of other applicants and score the callback.
Of course, you should highlight how the study abroad experienced helped you grow as a person and a professional first. But, don’t be afraid to mention some of the challenges you faced along the way. We’re all human, and everything doesn’t always come easy. However, if you demonstrate how you overcame the roadblocks and turned a hurdle into a success, you’re likely to impress employers and prove your perseverance.