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How NOT to Apply for an Awesome Travel Job

How NOT to Apply for an Awesome Travel Job main image

Guest post: Victoria Philpott

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Your heart’s beating fast, you’ve found the travel job of your dreams and you just know you’d be the perfect person for all that ‘occasional travel’. That job is yours. The only thing that stands in your way is the CV, the covering letter, the interview and the follow up. But you know you’re so perfect for the job, they’ll be a cinch.

Well, that’s what I think some of the candidates must have been thinking when I needed to recruit for a content and social media specialist in the travel industry. Some of the job applications I got in were shocking.

Most of the CVs didn’t even reach the second-look stage, but a few slipped through the cracks and actually ended up in my interview room. From start to finish, here are a few of the ways the applicants ruined their chances at getting hired for that awesome travel job.

1.  Send an over-complicated CV

Some candidates felt the need to tell me about that time they babysat at age 14. Whoever is reading your job application does not have the time to sit and read through your unabridged life story. They want short, concise points that illustrate the crux of your experience, not the total. I was interviewing for a writer and editor, among other things; if the CV was too long it told me they didn’t know how to write concisely for the web, or edit to fit.

Nowadays you have mere seconds to catch someone’s attention, whether you’re selling yourself or selling a destination, and if you’ve turned me off at the first hurdle, you won’t go far in selling travel.

2.  Lie or over-exaggerate on said CV

Once I’d met a few of the potential candidates in the interview room, I realized some were obviously masters at the art of exaggeration. You can’t profess your undying love for travel in your CV and then not have any substance to back it up. You need to show how you’ve made sacrifices to follow your passion. You need to know about the world and ooze desire to know more. You can’t just admit to watching Bear Grylls this one time and think you’d make a great second in command.

3.  Be coy or shy

4.  Ask stupid questions

5.  Give reason to doubt your ability

At the end of an interview I once asked the candidate if they had any questions for me. Cue dramatic pause, from her. “Why me?” she asked. I was stunned to silence. “Why did I get an interview out of everyone else?” she continued with a tone of disbelief. At that point she’d failed the interview. If you don’t have an undoubting confidence in yourself that you’d be the right person for the role, at least in the interview, how am I meant to have confidence in you?

6.  Reveal you have the geography skills of a 7-year-old

I asked one particular candidate if she’d travelled much and she replied, “to Africa”. “Whereabouts?” came my cheerful reply. Silence. She had no idea. Africa is made up of at least 47 countries and she couldn’t pinpoint the one she’d been to. I understand a lot of people are confused about Africa, but not someone who’s coming for a travel writing job, surely? This does not express an ‘interest in travel’.

To get a job in travel you don’t have to have travelled far; not everyone can afford that and the interviewer will know this. But some interest beyond a trip to the Costa del Sol with your family aged 14 would be useful to make you stand out from the crowd.

7.  Reveal your undesirable qualities

People who work in travel are generally fun. They’re more free-spirited than your usual colleagues and even when you’re in an office there’s generally a good atmosphere. Part of the point of a face-to-face interview is the chance for you and the interviewer to size each other up. Would you want to spend 40 hours a week together? If anyone’s ever told you you’re annoying, condescending or never shut up, don’t let on in the interview. You need to present the best version of yourself, at least until you pass your probation.

8.  Don’t follow up on the interview

A lot of travel jobs are all about customer care and genuinely wanting your clients to have the best experiences possible so they tell their friends and come back for more. With the likes of Trip Advisor and other review sites it’s never been more important for a business to ensure all interactions are positive. I think the seed of whether an employee actually cares first rears its head when it comes to following up on the initial interview. I expect to get a follow up email the next day from an interviewee to enforce their interest in the job after meeting me and learning more about the company.  

Finally...

These pointers could go for a lot of jobs, no matter what the industry, but to work in travel you really have to put yourself out there. I can’t think of a travel job where you can be a shrinking violet and get away with not saying much in a corner. To be able to get that awesome job in travel you need to present your skills and experience concisely, be able to think on your feet in the interview, have confidence, and a passion for travel it’d be difficult to beat.

Victoria Philpott has worked in travel for five years for some of the biggest companies in the UK. She now works as a freelance writer and blogs at vickyflipfloptravels.com. She’s currently running the Travel Blogger High series for wannabe travel bloggers; visit and you can find out more about getting a travel job in social media too.

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