Many of you have asked if a working holiday will be viewed positively by potential employers or schools, or be seen as a long indulgent vacation, especially if you don’t get the opportunity to work in your field of work or studies. The short answer is, it depends on how you package and present it.

As we can only see our experiences from the first person point of view, we tend to underestimate the incredibleness of our accomplishments. Remind yourself that very few people in the world have the courage to undertake the journey that is a working holiday, so be proud of yourself.

Know how to explain your reasons for leaving

Even if the reasons for embarking on an adventure abroad seem apparent to you, they may not be for recruiters. Practice formulating your reasons for wanting to take on this challenge. Maybe you wanted to:

  • Leave the family nest to learn to be independent.
  • Improve your proficiency in a foreign language.
  • Learn more about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Take a sabbatical before launching yourself into a long goal back home.
  • Recover from burnout from a highly demanding previous position.
  • Try your hand at a different profession.
  • Expand your network internationally.
  • Discover a new culture and another way of thinking.

If expressed thoughtfully, any experience can be of interest to your reader or listener. What are the ways in which you grew, what are some anecdotes that illustrate how the growth happened, and why is it relevant to the job you’re applying for? It’s easier said than done, so let’s walk through some specific scenarios that you might need to prepare for.

How to showcase your experiences on the working holiday

If you only travelled and didn’t work

It was probably a magical experience. You had memorable encounters, faced new challenges, and successfully realized your adventure with the budget you had. You enriched yourself and broadened your horizons. Having gained a larger perspective on the world and life, having recovered from potential burnout, you are now excited to dedicate the next chapter to your studies or career.

If you did not work during your WHV, that’s okay. But it is nonetheless still important to frame it in a way that recruiters can appreciate. Maybe it served as a sabbatical after a few tiring years in the workforce. Maybe it served as an extended immersive language class. Maybe it served as a source of inspiration for your next academic or professional pursuit. After all, even time off is not necessarily a waste of time.

You can also talk about your ability to stay organized. Planning a long trip abroad requires management of both time and budget, and however much fun it might be it is still no easy task.

If you didn’t work in your field at all

Consider explaining that despite your efforts, you were not able to find work in your domain but you did not just want to sit idle. So you took the initiative to search outside of the ordinary and the expected. In gaining more diverse experiences, you are even more sure now of wanting to continue pursuing a career in XYZ field.

If you didn’t work in your domain, it’s not a huge deal. On the contrary, it can be an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility and adaptability in a foreign environment, a foreign culture, and maybe even in a foreign language. Many employers value the ability to navigate ambiguity.

If you only worked in your field for a short amount of time

The above arguments work as well for this scenario.

Additionally, you probably had to work quite hard to even get that experience at all. In some destinations, it’s financially necessary to accept the first job offer that comes your way, and then subsequently find something that is a better match. In other countries, working holiday makers are not permitted to work more than a few months for the same employer, so you may have had to do a mix of different kinds of jobs. In any case, you made it out and are stronger for it, so present your accomplishments proudly.

Regardless of your story, also remember to show that you are a reliable person who will not unexpectedly pack up your bags and abandon your post in a couple of months. Reassure your prospective employer that it is absolutely possible to have a curiosity for the global world all the while being a dependable teammate.

How to include your WHV experiences in your CV and cover letter

Though not fatal, gaps in resumés do usually require explanation or justification. It is therefore important to know how to leverage and showcase your working holiday to your advantage.

Many employers may not be familiar with the terms working holiday or WHV, so don’t feel obligated to even mention them. The word “holiday” might even be misunderstood to mean you did nothing but party. Instead, consider just describing your experiences abroad as you would for any other experience in your home country, the difference being just where it happened.

If your working holiday occurred right after your studies (secondary or postsecondary), it is easier to explain. It was likely an occasion to acquire your first work experience abroad. It may also have been a way to gain a broader perspective on yourself and the world before diving into postsecondary studies or the workforce. With this experience under your belt, you can validate with more confidence if the next step is the right one for you.

On your CV, you can format your working holiday experiences like any other professional experience. If you work in tourism or another sector that favours experience abroad, you may even want to further highlight your working holiday by creating a separate section just for international experiences. If you have more than one experience abroad, even better.

All this said, don’t feel the need to base your CV purely on your anecdotes from abroad; don’t overdo it. Nowadays, many people find the way to gain experiences abroad so you are not unique in that sense. Present your profile in a holistic way, and certainly don’t discount the experiences that you’ve had in your home country.

Questions you might be asked during a job interview

The most obvious question is “Why did you decide to go abroad?” (we explored some possible responses earlier in this article). Other potential questions include:

  • What did your time abroad bring you personally?
  • What did your time abroad bring you professionally?
  • Why did you choose that country or city?
  • Why did you come back?

Some recruiters might not understand the benefit of travelling abroad. It is up to you to package your adventure into a story that can be easily understood and appreciated. Talk about how it was instrumental in testing your adaptability, interpersonal skills, independence, and passion for learning. These skills are absolutely all relevant in any workplace.

According to recruitment experts, it is also important to illustrate experiences with concrete examples. Instead of just saying your Spanish improved while in Argentina, paint a picture by recounting that when you first arrived, you could barely greet the locals but now you are able to order food, ask for directions, etc. Instead of claiming to be more adaptable now, describe the time that your hostel flooded and you had to find another accommodation at the last minute in a different language.

Document your experiences on a blog

Having a blog could be a way to stand out from the crowd and bring the words on your CV to life. It is a way to show your creativity, humour, and communication skills.

  • Write articles if you want to become a writer, journalist, editor, or translator.
  • Do illustrations if you want to work in animation, design, architecture, or art.
  • Post photos and videos if you want to work in audiovisual domains.
  • Try hosting a bilingual blog to showcase your language abilities.
  • Focus your blog on a specific topic if you want to specialize (fashion, food, architecture, culture and customs etc)

These stories, illustrations, photos, and videos would become a portfolio adding another dimension to your profile. They would also help you remember the incredible moments you lived while abroad. Who knows, a blog may open doors that you never knew existed.


In February 2023 I moved from Vancouver to Paris. Adventures await.
En février 2023 j’ai déménagé de Vancouver à Paris. Des aventures m’attendent.

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