The Backpacker's Guide To Securing Work When Travelling

Whether you are on a working holiday visa in a foreign country or whether you are looking to pick up some casual work abroad to help fund your trip, you’ll find that with the right information, finding work overseas is incredibly easy. Below is a complete guide to securing work when travelling.

Your Application

Your application is one of the most important tools for successfully securing work. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at what makes a successful application:

Your Resume

Having an up to date and properly formatted resume is the first step to successfully securing work. A lot of people are confused as to the length their resume should be, what jobs they should add or leave out, and in what order their information should be written. Ensure that you know exactly how to write a winning resume before submitting an application for work!

Your Covering Letter

1.   Always tailor your covering letter and introductory email to the specific job that you’re applying for. If you can’t be bothered to tailor your covering letter then there is no point in writing one; it’s always blindingly obvious when a generic cover letter has been used, and it doesn’t do the applicant any favours.

2.   Make your cover letter brief (no more than three paragraphs). You should structure these paragraphs as follows:

Paragraph one: The purpose of the letter, the position that you are applying for and your enthusiasm for being considered.

Paragraph two:  Relevant work experience, personal qualities and qualifications that match the position on offer – try and establish links between the job description and yourself; what benefit will the company get from employing you into this position?

Paragraph three: Refer to the inclusion of your resume for further details and end the letter with thanking the reader for considering your application and welcoming a chance to meet and discuss your application in further detail.

3.   Make your letter personal, and appealing. Do not use standard cover letter templates and avoid clichés such as “I’m hard working and a great team player” – whilst that is great news, the employer will have read the same thing in everyone else’s applications, so will it make you stand out? Not by a long shot. Instead, write about the unique personality traits you have that will make you an addition to the team – be creative! Make your cover letter sparkle with you.

4.  Keep it professional – address the letter to the person who has advertised the job, or, if you do not have a name then use ‘Dear Sir / Madam.' Always ensure that you have used a spell check and keep the font to size 12 and use a neutral font such as Times New Roman.

Your Attitude

When searching for a job you must be proactive! This means personally going into recruitment agencies and collecting a business card of a consultant who specialises on your area of work. It also means calling the person who is listed on job advertisements to discuss your application and it means calling employers to follow up on your application progress. Employers and recruiters like pro-active people, so be one! Just ensure that you do not cross the line from being proactive to being annoying. Call once to follow up, but not more than that.

Stay positive – if you are applying for a lot of jobs the likelihood is that you will get a few rejections; never take them personally, and don’t let them deter you from applying for further jobs.

Think outside the box

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to ‘keep doing the same thing but expecting a different result’. The best way to secure a job when travelling is to try different ways to finding work. This means applying online, it means visiting employers directly, checking local newspapers and magazines’ job listings, go to all of the local backpackers’ hostels to see if jobs have been posted to bulletin boards. The wider you cast your net for finding a job, the more opportunities you are likely to get!

Be prepared

Ensure that you are prepared to get straight into work – this means having a legitimate visa, a tax / IRD number ready (or an application in process for one) and a local bank account opened—employers will not pay into your overseas account!

You never know just how quickly you will secure an interview – so make sure you are prepared for it when it does happen! This means having professional clothes at hand – they don’t have to be expensive but a smart looking shirt and black trousers or a skirt will make a much better first impression than drab  backpacking clothes…

Being prepared also means swotting up on your resume and being ready to answer questions about your past employment history; refresh your memory as to the key duties that you held and the reasons you left the employment.

Be professional

It can be hard transitioning from “backpacker” to “job seeker” and going from hanging out drinking beers on the beach to sitting in a room being interviewed…but transition you must if you want to secure employment!

Being professional means turning up properly attired, so ensure that you are dressed in appropriate interview clothing. If you really cannot afford to buy clothes or do not have the time to get them before you are offered an interview then call the agency / employer and tell them that you will be turning up in casual clothing- your honesty will be greatly appreciated and you don't want the interviewer jumping to the conclusion that you are sloppy...

Being professional also means never, ever, slagging off your past work place – this is incredibly unprofessional and a huge turn off to prospective employers. Also be mindful of your social media profile – don’t forget that prospective employers may look at this before they hire you, so don’t put anything on there that will affect your chances of being employed!

Be honest

As much of a cliché as it is, honestly really is the best policy! If you left your last job because you were dismissed, explain this. Recruiters and agencies can work with people with difficult work histories if you tell them about it. What they cannot work with is dishonest people, and if you lie about your past work experience, or give a false reference, you will get found out.

Be flexible and open minded

Travelling is about challenging yourself and having new experiences – there is no reason that this way of thinking shouldn’t be extended to the jobs you are looking for. If you only apply to the types of jobs that you had at home then you are really narrowing your scope. Instead be open minded about trying different jobs – this will greatly increase your chances of getting hired.

Last but not least, practice!

If you have been out of the job seeking world for some time then you will need to refine your interview skills. This means practicing! Ask a friend to help you and get them to ask you a few questions that are likely to come up in the interview. The best questions to practice are behavioural questions – these are questions whereby you will have to give examples from your past work experience. An examples of a behavioural questions is:

“Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer; how did you go about resolving their issue?”

When answering these types of questions, ensure that you provide specific examples and make your answers clear and concise – do not ramble on or you will lose your audience. You may also want to practice answering questions such as why you want this role, why the company should employ you, what key skills you can bring to the workplace.

If you are going for an interview with a company directly (rather than an agency) then be prepared to be asked why you are attracted to working for the company – ensure that you have done your homework and you know how to answer this question!

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