How to Get a Job While Traveling the World


I couldn’t write about how to get a job while traveling the world without first writing this post:
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6 Unspoken Truths About Making Money While Traveling.

As long as you know that combining work and travel comes with significant costs, you’re ready to study the logistics of how to make money while traveling.

I’ll explain the three different methods for finding work.  Then I’ll send you over to my list of jobs to do while traveling.

australia coast seen by people who make money while traveling the world

This Australian beach is one of the fantastic places you might visit if you find jobs to do while traveling the world.

My credentials:

I’ve done it!  Considering that my primary goal in life requires not being employed, I’ve done a surprising number of jobs while traveling the world.

I’ve:

My pre-travel life consisted of a variety of blue-collar, white-collar, and recreational jobs.

Total time spent working:

  • 12.5 months

Total time traveling since I quit my last “real” aI guess a “real” job, to me, is a job you intend to work at indefinitely.  A job you begin without any specific stopping time in mind.  A job that requires you to have and maintain a house or apartment, car, and work wardrobe.  A job around whicht you organize the rest of your life.  A job that dictates when you wake up, what times you eat, and what you do with the better part of your waking hours. job:

  • 6 years bas of April 2016

How To Get a Job While Traveling

Same as back home!

  1. Know someone who can get you a job.
  2. Act as your own agent, cruising job ads and walking into businesses asking for work.
  3. Hire a temp/job agency to do the legwork for you.
a come in we're hiring sign is any job while traveling the world seekers dream!

When your heart is set on making money while traveling the world, seeing a sign like this will make your heart soar! photo: pixabay

Let’s begin at the end:

How to Get a Job While Traveling #3:

Temp and Job Agencies

As a DIYer cDo it Yourself’er and a budget ninja, I’m not a big fan of #3.  That’s the reason I use the term “hire an agency” instead of “work” for an agency.   A temp or job agency is really just an organization you pay to find you a job.

“But, wait.  I thought it was free?!” 

If the agency doesn’t actually find you a job, it free (usually).  But if they’re successful in getting you connected with work, you pay them a cut of everything you earn.

figurine on stacks of money cause he didn't read how to get a job while traveling the world

See how the money isn’t in this dude’s pockets? That because he still has to give a cut to the temp agency. Sad basket. photo: pixabay

In the same arena: gap year placements.  I don’t love the concept. They’re a fit for some people, I guess.  If you’ve got the cash to spare to have someone do the hard work for you, there are situations where the pros might outweigh the cons.  I hear too many stories of people not getting good value out of them (here’s one).  To be fair, there are people who also say they loved it and would rather part with a big chunk of change then have to do it themselves.

Pros of getting work through a temp/job agency:

  • Temp agencies have jobs you can’t find elsewhere.
    Think about it from the perspective of an employer.  Let’s say you own a big warehouse and need it cleaned quickly.  Would you want to put an ad in the paper, deal with endless phone calls, read hundreds of resumes, interview 20 people (30 minute interview x 20 = 10 hours of interviewing!), and get all the legal paperwork filled out for a bunch of new employees?  Hell no!  Not if you could call up the rent-an-employee agency who has already vetted workers and dealt with all the red tape involved in paying people for their work.  For this reason, temp agencies have connections that are much harder to find on your own.
  • Variety
    It’s the spice of life!  While working for a temp agency in New Zealand, my assignments ranged from farms to offices to hotels.  My partner at the time ended up assigned to driving a laundry truck.
  • Easier
    Although it will cost you a cut of all your future wages, you can leave all that calling, searching, job-ad reading, and applying to someone else.  Fingers crossed that they’ll try at least as hard as you would!
woman on beach sunbathing waiting to get a job while traveling the world

“Just waiting on a call from the temp agency. I can’t wait until I can afford a Mai Tai.”  photo: pixabay

Cons of getting work through a temp/job agency:

  • Getting a Fish
    You know the old adage – give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.  You’re losing a chance to build critical life skills that come from DIYing.
  • Less Money
    The agency gets a permanent cut of your pay!  It’s not bad if you’re only working for a few weeks and they’re getting you jobs you couldn’t get otherwise.  But this is not the way to launch several months of work.  We’re talking hundreds to thousands of dollars out of your pocket!
  • No Guarantees
    Some places – like au pair/nanny agencies or gap year placement services – will charge up front.  And sometimes they don’t get you a job.  And sometimes they keep your money anyway.  And that sucks.
  • Less Employer Buy-In
    If an employer didn’t have to work that hard to get  you, they’re often not as invested in taking care of you so you’ll stick around.
  • Lost Opportunities
    When temp/job agencies require employers to pay a front end fee, they make it harder for small business with less cash flow to take advantage of the service.  Often these small businesses are exactly the kind of personable, community-minded employers you want to work for.  Their positions often aren’t available through temp agencies.
pig swimming with seagull on back: longshot attempt at give/teach to fish metaphor

What happens if you give a man a pig that thinks it’s a fish? Then he eats for several weeks. But it’s still better if he learns to catch his own fish-pig, right? photo: pixabay

How to Get a Job While Traveling #2:

Self-Promotion

These are the hard yards.  You have to get out there, read job ads, apply, approach businesses, drop off resumes, follow up.  Nose to the grindstone!  This is the classic model for getting work, but it’s not number one on my “how to get a job while traveling” list.

Pros of getting work through self-promotion:

  • Keep your money!
    When you get a job using your own time and skills, your paycheck is 100% yours!  No cut going to an agency.
  • Knowledge is power.
    The more you know about how the systems work, the more you can work them!  Your job hunting will teach you things you didn’t know you didn’t know and empower you in ways you don’t even know exist.  I think it was Ben Franklin who said, “If you think education is expensive, you should try ignorance.”  Ignorance may be bliss, but it also costs you in the long run.
  • Worth your weight in gold?
    When an employer went through the hard yards of putting up a job ad, sifting through resumes, and interviewing candidates, and when you slogged through updating your resume, beating the streets, and following up, you both have a lot invested.  You both have incentives to make the job and work environment awesome.
  • Pick your poison
    You get to vet your employer.  Interviews aren’t just an employer tool to pick new hires.  They’re also your opportunity to see if the employer is someone deserving of your time and energy.  When you work for a temp agency, you don’t get to meet your employer until you show up to work.  You agree to do the work before you really know what you’re getting into.
gold bars which you won't actually get even if you make money while traveling the world

If you were actually worth your weight in gold, you’d be worth over two million dollars. In which case, I doubt you need to know how to get a job while traveling the world. photo: pixabay

Cons of getting work through self-promotion:

  • Time spent not always fruitful
    It can be frustrating when you’ve put in weeks worth of effort and are still waiting on your desired result.  When working holiday maker Steven Wilke traveled to Australia, he and his girlfriend spent two weeks in Cairns and another three weeks in Melbourne looking for work.  Here’s their timeline if you’re curious.
  • Stressful
    Looking for a job on your own means feeling responsible for success.  When it doesn’t materialize instantly, the uncertainty can be hard.  However, all job-finding methods have a level of uncertainty involved.

How to Get a Job While Traveling #1:

Networking

In my opinion, networking is the best way to get a job – always.  Whether you’re traveling the world or just looking for work back home, knowing someone who can put in a good word will get you a job more easily than all the qualifications in the world.   It really is who you know.   Look!  Another work-and-traveler even agrees with me!  As Meg Jay says (at 11:20) in her awesome TED talk – use those “weak ties!”

handshakes like this guy is offering start networking which is the best way how to get a job while traveling the world

“Nice to meet you! No way, my kid was a firefighter, too. You’re looking for work? I know a woman hiring people like you. Let me give you her number.”  photo: pixabay

Pros of getting work through networking:

  • You’ll make new friends and connections!
    Starting acquaintance-ships and friendships with new people gives you a community foundation to work from.  Those relationships might not lead immediately to a job, but the connections will improve your life (and theirs!) in countless small ways.
  • Less uncertainty
    When you take the time to make friends first, dealing with the uncertainty of job hunting is much easier.  Knowing people are looking out for you and thinking of you is a relief.  And ultimately, jobs come more easily.
  • Time well spent
    It may take just as long to get a job through networking as it does through self-promotion or temp agencies.  However, it’s time much better spent.  Would you rather spend 30 minutes dropping off six resumes or having coffee with a friend of a friend who knows a guy who owns a business that might be looking for employees?  Even better, at least a few of these peripheral connections will become genuine friendships full of nights out, trips, and making life-long memories together.
  • Less disposable
    When you and your employer have friends in common, that personal relationship comes with tons of perks.  Being connected to you via a community makes your employer more likely to take good care of you.
happy people at the end of a color run covered in paint networking to get a job while traveling the world

Participate in something like the color run with your new friend. Or just go and make new friends. Connect with people. Tell your story. It will take your mind off of not yet having a job at the very least. At most, the networking will lead to awesome opportunities!

Cons of getting work through networking:

  • It takes time
    You can spend just as much time running around filling out applications and dropping off resumes.  However, the time required to network is significant.  Relationships and connections are a one-at-a-time thing and take effort.
  • It happens at “life” pace.
    People are busy with their own lives.  An intention to connect you to a friend of theirs may be at the forefront of your mind, but could take several days or even a week or two to materialize.  Network is about sowing your seeds and caring for the patiently while they sprout.  If patience isn’t your strong-suit, networking might frustrate you.
sprouts coming out of the ground symbolizing networking that helps get jobs while traveling the world

“C’mon! Grow already!” photo: pixabay

To be clear, you can use all of these methods at the same time to get a job while traveling.  I’ve used each tactic successfully, but networking is where I put my money every time!  My advice is to focus your energy there.  Then while you’re waiting for that guy to email you his friend’s phone number, read the job ads, drop off a few resumes, go to coffee with your new friend, and maybe swing by the temp agency and fill out their paperwork.

You can read about how working holiday traveler Steven Wilke used networking and self-promotion to get his jobs in Australia here.

Now that you know how to get a job while traveling, what job should you get?  One of these:

24 Jobs to Do While Traveling the World

Happy Traveling! ♣

References   [ + ]

a. I guess a “real” job, to me, is a job you intend to work at indefinitely.  A job you begin without any specific stopping time in mind.  A job that requires you to have and maintain a house or apartment, car, and work wardrobe.  A job around whicht you organize the rest of your life.  A job that dictates when you wake up, what times you eat, and what you do with the better part of your waking hours.
b. as of April 2016
c. Do it Yourself’er


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