Finding and applying online for work away from home is not quite the same as applying for your career job in your own city. The search can seem a little odd and lead you to job advertisements that are often quite casual, ads without any clear job description and sometimes the only contact info is an email address. Occasionally the company’s name isn’t even included!
Lately, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the best way to apply for seasonal work found in ads on the internet. After years of sifting through ads and trying different tactics for applying online to work abroad, we’ve realized that the information you need to create a stand-out application is often right in front of you (maybe just a little tucked away). We decided to put together this list of easy tips because we want to help you get your daring foot in the door instead of your CV put straight in the trash folder. Read the tips, send off your resumes, and get that adventure job you have had your eye on!
1. ALWAYS READ THE WHOLE AD BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE
First and foremost, the most important part of the application process for seasonal positions, and any job ever for that matter, is to READ the ad! Read it from start to finish, then read it again, and after that re-read it. There is little chance of getting hired if your cover letter or CV shows that you missed what the ad was even asking for. Make sure you understand what information is being explicitly given, such as the dates it is available, the application deadline, where it is, what your position would be, what skills/certifications you need, and who to contact to apply.
Click on ALL of the links provided and see if there is additional information in a larger ad attached. A great cover letter won’t even be read if it is sent to the wrong department at the resort where you want to teach yoga or if in the first line you express your desire to live and work with them in San Juan, Costa Rica and the job is in Puerto Rico. Know the seasonal work ad front and back before you apply!
2. GET TO KNOW THE COMPANY BEFORE GETTING IN CONTACT-SEASONAL WORK IS STILL A REAL JOB
After you read and re-read the ad, start your research on the company and the destination. This is very important for two specific reasons. One, it allows you to mention specifics about the company in your cover letter to let the interviewer know you put in your time to understand what you applied for. And two, it lets you make SURE you even want to spend your time going after that position. You may find the place isn’t right for you, the job isn’t what you’re after, or that the company has a bad reputation.
Look at your prospective employer’s website, find them on TripAdvisor, Google the location, and run a search for the company and location on Facebook to see what is being talked about. Don’t waste your time and the company’s time just because you failed to research.
If you are looking for more job abroad opportunities look at this page full of ideas and direct links to companies hiring all over the world!
3. FORMALLY CONTACT THE COMPANY IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS
If you have any questions that you can’t find answers to with a LOT of research, contact the hiring manager. However, when making this initial contact, remember to STAY FORMAL!
No matter how informal or adventurous the job is, or how sloppily the job ad is written, you have to at least be respectful by starting out formally. This is your first impression on them and you have to make it a good one. Just because a job is temporary or seasonal doesn’t mean the employer will hire any random person who responds.
We see very qualified applicants break this rule all the time and it almost always immediately costs them their shot at the job. Additionally, unless the job instructs otherwise, do not start a dialog with the company on a Facebook comment, do not private message them, and make sure any correspondence is neat and edited. Correct spelling counts and so does grammar.
If you are writing in a second language, let them know because it may explain simple writing mistakes that will otherwise end the interest of the person considering you. Always start out formally, you can drop the “Yes Sir/Ma’am” later when THEY begin to be informal, but you can’t go the other way.
4. ORGANIZE KEY INFORMATION TO SIT AT THE TOP OF YOUR DOCUMENTS
When you start to putting together everything you need to apply for a job, keep in mind that applying online for work/volunteer abroad and seasonal work requires unique information.
In addition to your most relevant experience, certifications and skills pertaining to the job, at the top of your CV, you may want to include your nationality, work visa, second and third languages (and how competent you are in each), Skype handle, where you are currently located and your availability. Current location and availability can be super important for some seasonal jobs. If you are located close and can move to the job like yesterday, you may beat out more qualified yet less available candidates. We have seen this work more than once for jobs who had to do an emergency hire.
5. FOLLOW THE AD INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLYING ONLINE OR PEOPLE WILL NOT HIRE YOU
When you think you have everything in order and are ready to apply, go back to that job ad that you have now read 20 or 30 times. Follow the directions that are laid out in there as closely as possible. Usually there is an email address to send your information to and what they want to see in that email. You have a lot better chance of landing that perfect job if your CV makes it to the right person on the first try.
Use the email the ad listed, not the company email on their website. Your application may get lost, overlooked, or just deleted because you couldn’t follow instructions. Also, try to avoid sending your CV through a Facebook message or a Direct Message on Instagram. (I am not even sure how that last one ever seemed like a good idea.)
Don’t just reply to the website where you found the ad posted. We know first-hand that ads get passed and shared around a lot, often being posted on job boards. Simply replying to the post may go to someone who is a friend of a friend of the daughter whose neighbor actually posted the job, wasting your time waiting for a response from someone who has no link to the job itself.
When you do send all of your information in, include everything that was asked for. If you don’t have a specifically requested bit of info, explain its absence. Don’t just skip anything. The ability to follow directions is huge at any job and that necessity does not go away just because it is seasonal work. Follow step-by-step what the ad asks you to do.
6. INCLUDE A COVER LETTER AND PHOTO AS PART OF YOUR APPLICATION
Seasonal work ads may ask for several different things to be sent to the hiring manager for review such as CV or resume and copies of certifications or degrees. An online application may need to be filled out as well. When applying online, a cover letter and photo can always get snuck in there either in the body of the email or as attachments and is a great way to introduce elements of you that aren’t necessarily clear in your resume.
Use the cover letter to explain why you are a fantastic fit and give a mission statement of what you can offer and are looking for in seasonal work. Try not to simply restate the same information that is on your CV. Your CV should be a highlight reel of your past experiences, jobs, skills, education, and certifications that pertain to the position you want.
Your photo should follow the same idea. The head shot helps employers put a face to the information and have a better overall idea of who you are. Just like with the writing and correspondence, the head shot should be professional. Make sure they can see you in the photo and try not to use an action shot. The difference in this industry over the business world is that these photos can be tailored to the job, so wear what you would put on to go to work. If you are applying as a surf instructor, board shorts or a wet suit can be acceptable in a photo. If you want to work in kite boarding, you on a beach with kites in the background is great! Just don’t use that same photo when you apply to teach English as well.
7. BE HONEST AND CLEARLY DEFINE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR
As you begin applying online for a job, speak with employers sincerely. Do not promise to take all the front desk shifts just to get the job at an awesome company if you don’t want to work the front desk. It is common to have to work inside sometimes for an outdoor adventure job company.
If you are seemingly allergic to florescent, artificial lighting and get “sun burns” from a computer screen, promising to work all of the indoor shifts just to squeeze yourself in the company is going to be VERY disappointing for everyone involved. Don’t promise things in a cover letter that you don’t mean just to get the job or land an interview.
8. DON’T SEND EMPLOYERS ON A HUNT THROUGH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
If you are finding it difficult to narrow all of the details of your awesome self into one page, it can be tempting to simply direct a hiring manager to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or website to find out more about you. Tread lightly here. Employers are busy with dozens or hundreds of applications and don’t have time to chase you all over the internet. It looks sloppy, lazy and shows you don’t have the skills to sell yourself in the allotted space like the other applicants. You can include your social media handles and website in your application if you want to show your prowess, but include info assuming they will never go to your sites.
9. SEND YOUR DOCUMENTS IN REASONABLE SIZES AND PROGRAMS
When you send files to your potential employer, make sure they are in a format that is easily opened. Keep in mind that a lot of amazing seasonal work opportunities are in REMOTE locations that are lucky to get a few hours of usable WiFi per day. Send a Word document and a JPEG, avoiding off the wall files that only web designers can pronounce unless otherwise directed.
10. BE PATIENT AND TRY NOT TO TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Many, many incredible companies will look at your application and never get in touch with you. It seems unfair after all that work you put into your application, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t outstanding. You are amazing for trying, which most people do not even do. Don’t give up—there is an opportunity out there for you!
This list is a great way to get started in the application process. We tried to address the most common questions we have been getting lately and the most common mistakes we have seen, or made, in the past when applying online for seasonal adventure jobs around the world. In the end 90% of the mistakes can be avoided by just READING THE AD! If you don’t understand what is being offered as a job, you can’t apply correctly and automatically put yourself at the bottom of the pile or in the trash.
We hope this helps to steer you in the right direction. These seasonal work tips are obviously just general guidelines, each position and opportunity has to be evaluated independently.
We love hearing your questions and helping out so keep them coming. Good luck everyone, hope to see you on the road! Keep exploring!
Now that you know all about applying online, read how to save money and time in our book Passport Denied: 26 HUGE Travel Mistakes to Avoid While You Volunteer and Work Abroad!