By Ethan Maurice | March 22, 2016
There seems to be an online debate as to whether travel makes us more or less employable. Many traveler bloggers like to cite all the skills honed while traveling that you can list on your resume while others allege that having a gap in your resume is less enticing to employers than if you worked the whole time.
Both sides make compelling arguments, but in generalizing travel they gloss over one vital detail—what did you actually do?
Travel is a vague term.
Travel could be relaxing in a beach-side hammock in Cancun for six months, which might not help your employability. By no means am I saying you shouldn't do that, it's just probably not going to make you more employable. Travel could also be volunteering in Africa to save endangered animals from poachers or climbing Mount Everest, which would absolutely make you more employable. Basically, the more adventurous or purposeful your travel, the more likely it would illustrate value to a potential employer.
I firmly believe the biggest asset on my resume is not my bachelor's degree, but my 4,500-mile bicycle ride across the United States that raised over $96,000 for Phoenix Children's Hospital. Though my bachelor's degree is vital for meeting a job's qualifications, it's my ride and the sheer amount of effort I put into a quite daring undertaking that illustrates the type of person I am. In every job interview I've done since, we inevitably spend most of the interview discussing the ride, and I've got the job every time.
My brother (and co-cross country rider) was actually sought after by employers after our ride. A passionate baseball player, he ended up with the perfect job as a senior in high school, running a nearby indoor batting cage. The owner heard about our ride from a friend and literally tracked him down and asked him to work there.
To argue whether travel, in general, makes you more employable or less employable is too vague a question. It depends specifically on what someone actually did.
I think there's an even better answer to this question of travel and employability though: WHY ARE WE EVEN ASKING THIS QUESTION???
If traveling made you less employable would you stay home?
Would you forsake the feeling of possibility and unknown that each morning brings as you wake in a foreign land? Would you give up the vast landscapes, the peaks yet to be bagged, and the cultural perspectives you've yet to gain that challenge your very own? Would you surrender your most vivid moments of clarity, your highest highs, your lowest lows, the people you'd meet, and the experiences you'd share... in the name of employability?
To never take the time to travel for fear of lowering your employability is to value, not your work, but your resume above all else. It's a clear indication that your priorities are misaligned or that fear of not being successful in the future governs your every decision in the present.
Whether or not travel makes you more employable is absolutely the wrong question. Rather, ask yourself how you want to spend your limited time as a living, breathing human being as you hurtle through space at 67,000 miles per hour on a gas covered rock.
Time (not employability) is the most valuable commodity you possess.
Use it wisely.