dirty backpacker seeks employment
November 17, 2013 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently traveling outside the us and trying to line up a job for when I get home in January. Help me succeed.

I'm currently traveling in Ecuador through the end of January. I'd like to get a job lined up for when I get back and I'm going to be sending out resumes this week. I have some things in my favor: my field (environmental education) has lots of openings around the time I get back, I'm pretty well qualified for the types of jobs I'll be applying for, and it is pretty normal for people to relocate for these jobs, so being hired after a phone interview is pretty common. However, I've got some questions specific to my situation.

1. Communication. I don't have a phone here. I'm planning on just saying they can email me to set up a time for me to call them long distance for an interview, our we can Skype if they prefer. Okay?

2. Convincing them I'm reliable. Currently i have a line in my cover letter saying: "l hope that you will consider me for the position even though I am not currently in the country. I'll be returning January 30th and hope to return to work soon thereafter." Sound okay?

3. Should I put my traveling on the resume, outlining what I've been up to? it would be two professionally relevant month + long full time volunteer stints and a month of Spanish classes.
posted by geegollygosh to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As for #3, I would definitely add it to the resume. It seems like it would add to your experience quite a bit. Could you blog about it? It might be a nice thing to include the URL, as well.
posted by xingcat at 5:03 PM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would just ask them to skype you. I've had a couple of skype interviews, and it's no big deal (as long as we're talking about vaguely tech-savvy companies?). With one exception, all the skype interviews I've done have been with people who were in the same country as me -- it's just the easiest video chat service, and isn't it better to see the person you're interviewing?

Re convincing them you're "reliable", I don't see why that would be necessary unless you literally have no work history, or a resume that consists of a year here and there punctuated by huge gaps where you repeatedly ditched long term jobs in order to travel. If you skype, they don't even have to know you're outside the US. Even if you have to tell them you're out of the country in order to get them to skype rather than call, they don't need to know the details. Why explain away a situation they need not even be aware of?

If you've been traveling long enough that it needs to be on your resume or mentioned in your cover letter in order to explain what you've been doing for the last year, sure, be open about skyping from Ecuador. But in the way of "convincing", I would just make sure to mention that, after a long traveling stint, you're ready to come home and settle into a long term job.

If you've been away for less than three months, I absolutely would not mention it at all, and just skype "from vacation".

I would only put your travels on your resume if you've been out of the workforce for more than six months. I would only put the volunteer positions and language classes on your resume if you would have listed similar experiences done from home.

I've done the long term traveling thing, and I'm a huge proponent of the traveling lifestyle, but I think that in most cases it's not really relevant to your job, and by putting undue emphasis on it you might not come off as well as you think. Keep the focus on your career, and if the travel isn't relevant to your work life, I would de-emphasize it as much as possible.
posted by Sara C. at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll be traveling for 4.5 months in total. I can't think of a way to not say I'm in Ecuador and not give a phone number.

The resume thing.... It's all professionally relevant, but I would probably take it off after ward just because I try to keep my resume pretty fluff free and it's all short term stuff. So I'm mainly asking for this particular round of applications, to give them an idea of how I'm spending my time.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:03 PM on November 17, 2013

1. you can get a skype number or google number. if someone insisted on calling you i'd buy a cheap phone just for the interview. i suppose you could be in a bad cell coverage area, but the internet would probably also be pretty bad for skype calls too.

2. include something about willing to permanently re-locate.

3. i think one or two, max, lines about what you've been doing.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:27 PM on November 17, 2013

For 4 months, I just don't think that matters. I would not be shy about saying you're traveling and happen to be in Ecuador right now in terms of scheduling a skype interview, but I really don't think you need to pad out your resume with fluff or go out of your way to address concerns your potential employers won't have.

The most I would do is mention it briefly in a cover letter and clarify that you will be back in the US and available to work on January 30.

It's really none of your employers' business that you've been bumming around South America for a few months, unless your volunteer experience has specific relevance to the positions you're applying for to the extent that you would otherwise list it on a resume if you were not traveling.
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on November 17, 2013

Response by poster: I'm worried about the Skype voice call option because of quality. I'm worried about the Skype video because I don't want to make anyone download a program to interview me. Is there something wrong with saying "Set up a time and I'll call you from a long distance payphone"?
posted by geegollygosh at 4:29 AM on November 18, 2013

I don't know your industry well, but to me someone saying "Let me call you from a long-distance payphone" would be weirder than someone saying "Can we Skype?" Do you use Skype for other communication purposes? Have you actually had problems with connection quality?

People are used to terrible connections for phone interviews because of cell phones. Also, you could get a Skype or Google or whatever phone number (a US number) and have them call you on that. They won't even know you're using a computer to take the call (doesn't have to be video chat).

Also the handful of people I know in and around the environmental education field are ALWAYS traveling and have travel volunteer experience. It seems like this is at least accepted, if not preferred! So put it on the resume, just be clear about when you'll be back.
posted by mskyle at 6:18 AM on November 18, 2013

Best answer: I've applied for jobs in the states while living/traveling abroad.

1. You don't need to list a phone number, just leave it out of the "header" of your resume but leave you email and possibly a permanent address or somewhere you could conceivably receive mail (just so you don't seem like a ghost.)
At the end of your cover letter, briefly explain something like: "I'm currently volunteering in Ecuador but will be returning to the states January 30th and am excited to get to work as soon as possible. I am readily available via email and would love to speak with you about the position further via Skype or on the phone. I do not have a permanent phone number in Ecuador but would be happy to call you. (OR something.) Shouldn't be a huge deal if you are clear and concise, don't talk about it like "I know it's such hassle, sorry" or they'll start thinking it's a hassle.

2. Reliability: I would definitely not say "...even though I'm not in the country", don't frame anything in a cover letter as if they are doing you a favor or point out/make up a weakness for yourself that they might not have even dwelled upon. The second sentence about your eagerness to get to work quickly (and being clear about when you'll be returning) gets your point across.

3. Put the volunteering stint (under Professional Experience) and spanish classes (under Skills or Education) if you think they make the resume stronger and relate to the job (I would think the spanish definitely would). It's nice to include briefly since you are mentioning travel in the cover letter, this shows its not just a vacation. Though, you don't HAVE to include them if it means edging out more important info. If you have a chronological listing of your experiences and want something besides the volunteer stint to be the first thing on the resume, you could make a "volunteer" section and include it further down the page. Maybe you have one other volunteer thing you can put with it, or just have one entry under volunteer...you can make it work.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, you're instinct it very correct that enviro. ed people (my field at one time) are not/shouldn't be put off by phone interviews, so there's nothing wrong with suggesting it but they also might have skype, I did several job interviews over skype. Just try not to make it sound more complicated than it is: mentioning "long distance pay phone" sounds confusing, just say: "I will call you" or "It will be easier if I call you". And do the work on your end to research a reliable phone to call from. In a pinch you could even consider calling a phone from skype or google, I don't know what the reception/reliability is like, depending on your internet connection.

Or, just brainstorming, if you have access to a private phone in a friends home in Ecuador, a hotel/hostel or maybe the office of the org. you're volunteering with you could maybe buy a phone card and call from there. But you don't have to explain to the new job folks how you're making the call, as long as it works.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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