Dear hiring managers, allow me to make a novel suggestion: If you want to dominate the competition, be on the cutting-edge, and rise to the top, the best thing that you can do is hire the guy wearing hippie pants with a beat up backpack and a passport full of stamps.
It might sound crazy, but hear me out. The place to find excellent employees isn’t an ivy league school’s job fair, LinkedIn, nor Craig’s List. The place to find the perfect out-of-the-box thinkers, problem solvers, and movers and shakers is the arrivals hall at an international airport.
Old-school hiring managers will see a year off spent traveling rather than working as a carefree joy ride rather than a learning experience. They’ll make the mistake of thinking that those with travel experience are just waiting for their next travel fix, they’re flakey, or they aren’t hard-working. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and time well spent in the university of the world is far superior to a classroom or cubicle.
Clever hiring managers know (or at least should know) that travelers make the best employees. Here are eight solid reasons why:
We are disciplined and dedicated
Almost every long-term traveler self funded his or her journey, and we saved up for a long time to make the trip happen.
When our friends went out for expensive dinners and cocktails, we stayed at home and learned how to cook our own food. When our coworkers spent money on expensive coffee shops, we brewed our own coffee, and when everyone else bought new clothes, we went to thrift shops.
We know how to make sacrifices to reach a goal. We know how important it is to remain dedicated, never losing sight of the prize.
We know how to budget effectively
Those of us who have traveled long-term have only managed to do so because we’re good at maintaining a budget. We know exactly how much we can spend and on what. We know that in order to stay on the road, we must remain disciplined.
Sure, we splurge a bit here and there, but we’re also scrappy, and have figured out how to work in exchange for a little cash in hand, how to trade our skills for room and board, and how to prolong the journey by thinking outside of the box.
We know how to negotiate
Almost anyone who has traveled extensively has had to haggle at some point. We’ve had to figure out when we’re getting cheated and how to negotiate effectively so that both parties are happy with the end result. We’ve honed these skills over months and years, striving to make our travel funds last.
Corporations negotiate with millions and travelers do so with dollars and cents – volume is really the only difference.
We are excellent problem solvers
Many times a traveler has been stranded on the side of the road thanks to a broken down bus, a flat tire, or a train that never showed up. We’ve dealt with cancelled flights, completely booked out accommodation, and situations that are far more frustrating than we could have ever imagined.
Thanks to moments like these, we’ve learned that crying over spilled milk or waiting for someone else to come up with a solution are both fruitless endeavors. Therefore, we know how to get straight to problem-solving.
We handle stressful situations well
The work environment can get stressful, and naturally, you want an employee who performs well under pressure. Travelers have encountered more stressful situations in one year than most people do in a lifetime, from avoiding scams to successfully navigating a country he/she has never been to before, and in a different language to boot.
We have slowly but surely learned to take these situations in stride, and to be patient, positive, and inquisitive. We know how to rise above and move forward effectively and independently.
We know how to talk to anyone
Whether it’s a fellow traveler, the street stall lady selling us soup, or the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, we’ve learned how to speak with people and how to address and handle anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, or status.
We know how to find common ground with others. Even if it initially seems like there’s very little, we’ll find it. We can easily talk about the nuances of Vietnamese food, the Italian coffee culture, or Aussie Rules Football. We’re cultured, and great conversationalists as a result.
We aren’t scared of other cultures
In this rapidly globalizing world, it’s more important than ever to have employees who understand and respect other cultures.
We know it’s rude to point the bottom of your feet at someone in Thailand, we understand how to shake someone’s hand in Southern Africa, and we grasp that it’s important to say, ‘Bonjour’ when entering a store in France.
We’ve picked up a lot of knowledge of other cultures during our travels abroad and we know that we have more similarities than differences to our fellow humans, and we can approach those differences with understanding rather than fear.
We see the world as bigger than ourselves
Anyone who travels also understands that this world is impossibly big while being surprisingly small and interconnected all at the same time. We’re humbled by what we’ve seen, and we know full-well that we’re not the biggest fish in the sea.
We understand that we’re a small part in the grand scheme of things and we want to make a positive impact, thanks to all we’ve seen and learned. We know that people are fundamentally good-natured, and that finding ways to connect with others is more rewarding than stressing about our differences.
You see, dear hiring manager, anyone who travels has learned more in a few months than many learn in a lifetime. We’re ready to take on new challenges, to make an impact in the workplace, and to take what we’ve learned and put it to good use.
So next time you see a gap in a resume thanks to time spent abroad, give it another look. Just imagine what a whole company full of cultured, diligent, itelligent employees could achieve.