You’ve studied abroad and now you’re updating your resume and wondering how you can articulate months of adventures, growth, and cultural learning into skills that qualify you for your next career. There’s no question that employers value international experience so here’s how you can include study abroad on your resume.
Reflect on the skills you learned
Study abroad is full of lessons inside and outside of the classroom. However, some skills might be more obvious than others. Chances are you’ve heard advisors, alumni and other fans of study abroad talk about the hard and soft skills you’ll pick up from studying abroad, but what exactly is the difference between the two?
Hard Skills – teachable and measurable abilities that can be demonstrated on the job:
- Experience with industry-related software, such as Excel or Photoshop
- Knowledge in a specific field, such as social media management or content editing
- Foreign language skills
- Creating lesson plans for students during a volunteer
Soft Skills – character traits that make you a good employee and easy to work with:
- Time management
- Interpersonal communication
A quick look back at your time abroad and evaluating your areas of growth can help you determine any hard and soft skills you developed. Focus on the “results” of your experiences abroad. You might be surprised to realize how many skills you developed and honed by living outside of your comfort zone. Remember, be prepared to speak to these skills and provide examples if needed during an interview!
Add your language proficiency
While not every course will be relevant to include on a resume, your foreign language proficiency will look great to employers. Nearly every industry can benefit from bilingual employees, and being able to communicate with clients, employees, or patrons who don’t speak English as a first language makes you a huge asset in the workforce. When writing up your resume, use words like “intermediate” or “advanced” to quickly represent your level of proficiency.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to include your language competency, even if it’s not as advanced as you think it should be. Demonstrating the desire to learn a second language, no matter how much you learned during study abroad, shows a dedication to continuing education and a commitment to connecting with others.
Share extracurricular activities
If you participated in an internship or volunteer abroad, put that on your resume! List your experience under the “Professional Experience” section and detail out the tasks you worked on, along with any measurable objectives you achieved during your time with the company. Resume writing is all about using strong verbs to point out your success. So make sure to include words like:
In an interview, share details on the soft skills you developed, as well, because we know you did! Talk about how you improved your communication skills (both in English and the native language of your host country), developed time management strategies, and learned to prioritize tasks in a given workday.
Tailor your resume to the job in question
One crucial piece to the resume writing puzzle is to update your resume according to the job you are applying for. Not all skills are relevant to every job, so it’s important to tailor your resume and cover letter to each individual position. No matter what job you’re applying for, you should include study abroad on your resume in some way. But consider all your skills and experiences and choose the ones that you can best apply to the question “What skills would you bring to this position?” If you can’t explain why a specific skill will help you succeed in that role, leave it off your resume.
If you are applying to jobs out of the country, understand that not all resumes and applications are created equal! As you know from your time abroad, different cultures handle everyday tasks differently, and the hiring process is no different. As GoOverseas recommends, do your research and follow application instructions before submitting your resume, CV, or additional application materials.
There you have it! We recommend updating your resume now, even if you aren’t actively searching for a job. Add your study abroad experience to your resume while it’s fresh; plus, it’s a fun chance to reflect on your time abroad. For more tips on highlighting your study abroad to potential employers, visit our Career Resources page. Good luck!