How to Sell Your Study Abroad Experience to an Employer

July 15, 2015

The job market is competitive and if you studied abroad, you’ve got something that sets you apart. Here’s how to make your potential employer see how your study abroad experience helped you grow into a great future employee.

1. Reflect on what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed.

A trip to Machu cultural awareness and independence
A trip to Machu Picchu…plus cultural awareness and independence

It’s not enough to just tell a potential employer that you studied abroad in college. To get the advantage, you have to explain why it matters. Think about you before your program and you after your program. These differences could be more concrete changes, like becoming fluent in another language. They can also include growing some of your soft skills, like cultural awareness or adaptability.

If you kept a blog during your time abroad, that’s a great place to start. See how you reacted to cultural differences or unexpected changes in the beginning of your program versus the end of your program. A study abroad blog is also something that your potential employer would likely be interested in. If you’re being proactive and reading this before you go, here’s how to write a study abroad blog.

2. Add your experience to your resume.

New friends in increased intercultural skills
New friends in Uruguay…plus increased intercultural skills

Now that you’ve figured out why your time abroad makes you a more valuable employee, it’s time to add it to your resume. You can decide if it makes more sense for your personal resume to put it under education or under a separate experience.

Look at the job that you’re applying for, and find key skills and traits mentioned in the listing. How does your experience relate to the requirements? Add any skills that will easily transfer to your future job.

Here are some ideas to get you started: Adaptability, flexibility, communication skills, independence, initiative, intercultural skills and problem-solving skills.

3. Use LinkedIn to your advantage

Hanging out with networking and language skills
Hanging out with locals…plus networking and language skills

Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your study abroad experience, or create one if you haven’t already. Most employers will look for your profile during your job search.

Add a short, professional summary about yourself and incorporate any skills you gained while studying abroad. Enter the university that you studied at and your courses in the Education section. Include any volunteer work or internships you completed abroad.

Make connections on LinkedIn by joining groups. You can network and converse with other members of the group, and potential employers will also see a visual representation of your background on your profile by seeing your groups. A great place to start is joining the ISEP Alumni & Friends group.

4. Prepare for the interview

A class trip to increased responsibility and possibly improved job-related skills
A class trip to Argentina…plus increased responsibility and possibly improved job-related skills

So you’ve stood out enough to snag an interview. Now you have to prove that you’re as good in person as you’ve presented yourself on paper. Have interview-appropriate stories ready to back up the skills that are on your resume. The time you crossed language barriers by signaling to a bartender that you wanted a beer? Maybe don’t tell that one. The time that your train was canceled and you used your problem-solving skills to find a new solution? Definitely tell that one.

Your study abroad experience is more than just an extended vacation. Use your resources to show your potential employer why your time abroad added to your education and made you perfect for the position.

Looking for more ways to use your study abroad experience to get a job? Check out some of our other blogs, including How to Talk About Study Abroad in a Job Interview and 5 Resume Boosters Hidden in Your Study Abroad Photos.

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