Applicants for education jobs who have spent time travelling or working abroad often overlook the fact that their experience can bring important added value to their CV. Find out how to make the most of your gap year or career break adventures to maximise your chances of securing a position as a teacher or teaching assistant.

How to use your experiences in your applications for education jobs.

Global learning.

Spending extended periods of time abroad is an education in itself. Whether backpacking in the Far East or volunteering in southeastern Europe, adjusting to life in another country means you have the ability to adapt to the customs and conventions of a different community. Being immersed in a new culture, perhaps new languages, alternative lifestyles and unfamiliar routines provides you with real marketable strengths.

This experience provides a wealth of opportunities to learn about the history, heritage and values of the local inhabitants. Doing so demonstrates that you have a number of important and valuable assets. One of these is undoubtedly the desire to learn, and this often goes hand in hand with the desire to teach others.

Taking the initiative.

Making the decision to travel abroad is a significant step. It demonstrates that an individual is self-motivated and is prepared to be original in terms of their thinking and planning, rather then just sit back and wait for something to turn up. Arranging a trip, planning journeys and sorting out paperwork take time and skill and are a testament to personal efficiency and organisational ability.

The capacity for change.

The capacity for adapting to life in a new country is an indication that an individual can be flexible and accept change. This is an important attribute for an educator who may have to adjust to working with new colleagues and students or fit in with alterations to a teaching schedule.

Other school activities may include creating and implementing a variety of lesson plans for different subjects, organising an after-school club or contributing to the school magazine. Therefore, having a proven ability to be flexible is a very positive characteristic.

The ability to communicate.

Travelling means coming into contact with lots of different people, as does volunteering or working in another country. The experience of having to understand and be understood by others who may not share your language is a great way to boost personal communication skills.

If a new language has been learned in the process this should be highlighted in a CV or covering letter when applying for teaching jobs.

What to put on your education CV or covering letter:

  • be enthusiastic and positive about travelling experiences emphasising how much they have taught you and how much that has made you want to teach others
  • point out the organisational and planning skills developed before and during the trip
  • highlight the fact that you are flexible and have experience of adapting to different circumstances and environments
  • call attention to your ability to communicate with people from a wide range of backgrounds - particularly if you have learned a new language. Communication is the essence of teaching jobs and teaching assistant jobs.