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Why you should travel to gain global competence for today's job market

How do you become globally competent? Certainly a buzz word in the travel industry — you'll want to know what it means and how you can achieve global competency!


Abr 01, 2023


global competence

If you're out there in the job market (and as a Millennial or Gen Z'er, you most likely are in one way or another) you're sure to have seen the phrase "Global Competence" floating around in the qualifications and requirements section of job applications.

You may have seen it in a few different ways: international competence, global awareness competency, knowledge of international issues, ability to work cross-culturally, and understanding of global relationships are all considered branches of this proverbial tree.

You might also like: 4 reasons why traveling can make you better

Core concepts of competence

So what exactly is global competence?

Global competency, by definition, is the "capacity to understand and act on issues of global significance." Building on this, it "represents the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to thrive in today's interconnected world" (World Savvy, 2019).

What employer wouldn't want someone with the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to thrive in the modern world? You definitely wouldn't want to hire someone without these skills.

People who are globally aware are more likely to speak another language, or at least have the knowledge required to speak cross-culturally. They have been somewhere or interacted with someone that necessitated learning local customs and traditions and are more likely to be observant of these in the future.

As a result, globally competent people are more likely to succeed in building bridges across cultures whether it be in their personal or professional relationships. These bridges are necessary to run successful international businesses, negotiate and form international partnerships, and better understand one's own culture and biases in order to overcome any barriers these may cause.

Who would you rather build your partnership with a sister company in China, Jim from accounting or the culturally competent, globally aware new hire? No offense Jim, but that's a no-brainer.

How do you become globally competent?

Knowing what global competence means is well and good, but how do you become this articulate, international deal maker?

First, you have to be curious about the world around you. If you're reading this, you most likely already are! Start being observant when you travel. Read about the location you're exploring, its history, traditions, and cultural norms.

Being an active participant closely follows observation when it comes to becoming globally aware. When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Note the differences between the culture you find yourself in and what you are used to. Ask questions when appropriate.

Travel is a pure form of education, and volunteering, teaching or working abroad with an organization like Worldpackers makes it much easier to become globally competent through participationWhether taking a sabbatical, exploring Europe on a budget, or traveling the world full-time as a digital nomad, find a Worldpackers host today and exchange your skills for accommodation while immersing yourself in local community.

One of the most important global competencies is the ability to recognize other's perspectives and see the world through different cultural lenses. When you return home, make sure to debrief — what perspectives were different from what you thought? Different from your own? Why do you think that was?

Knowing the perspectives of others and taking the time to ask why they may have those opinions will make you a much better communicator. Another global competency is the ability to communicate with a diverse group of audiences, which you don't have to be bi or multi-lingual to do!

These global competencies are incredibly important to employers. The ability to form international relationships and work with those who may have a very different worldview from your own is incredibly attractive in today's competitive, interconnected job market.

Taking global competency to the next level

Being globally competent or aware isn't just something to keep in mind when building your CV/resume. A trip abroad, especially a meaningful experience abroad working and living in a local community for a considerable amount of time, provides you with the tools to teach others about the interconnectedness of today's world as well.

Educators are increasingly becoming aware of the need to teach their students about other parts of the world, how people there live and work, and why its important to understand these things. The pre-K kids learning Spanish in the classroom today are the foreign policy makers of the future. The exchange students traveling far from home to experience life in a far-off land are the diplomats of tomorrow.

You don't even need to go abroad to see the global competency model at work! Let's use the U.S. as an example. Communities across the U.S. are becoming more diverse each year. These changing demographics have been obvious in cities, but are now just as apparent in rural areas.

This diversification of communities means a changing workplace environment. Your job title does not need to include the word international anymore for you to be working with people from all different walks of life. The workplaces in the U.S. and all over the world are evolving; employers know it and you should too!

Keep reading: TOP 5 Reasons why you should volunteer abroad and Top reasons why volunteering is important for personal development

How to become globally competent through travel

Learn more about global competence

There are ways you can become more globally competent without setting a foot out your door. While it's best to put what you learn into practice, there are incredible resources out there to get you started on your path to global awareness and understanding:

1. Global Competence Certificate Program

2. World Savvy

3. Asia Society

You can use these tools and the information above to make your resume really kick a**! You'll be wheeling and dealing in no time, just don't forget to spread the love and incorporate what you've learned about global competence in your interactions, both domestic and international. 

You'll be a better employee, and person, for it.

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