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Breaking into the Adventure Travel Industry: Tips and Tools for Turning Your Passion into Your Career

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One year ago, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) launched two new membership opportunities for individuals: Community and Professional memberships. Prior to the summer of 2020, the ATTA, as a trade organization, exclusively offered membership to businesses and organizations, rather than individuals. Although the ATTA was already developing these additional membership categories when the pandemic hit, the impact of COVID-19 on the adventure travel industry expedited their debut. Community Director Mira Poling Anselmi explains, “We knew individuals wanted to learn how to break into the adventure travel industry, advance their careers, and access the ATTA community. What we couldn’t have prepared for was the number of people who were already working in adventure travel who would suddenly need these resources too.”

In the regions where travel is resuming, employment opportunities are also trending upward, but the job market isn’t the only expected change post-pandemic. A recent study in the United States found that 48% of people are rethinking what type of job they want moving forward. Half of U.S. workers surveyed say that the pandemic has made them reevaluate their work goals, giving them more control in deciding the direction of their career. So whether you are learning about adventure travel as a career change or are a seasoned adventure travel professional looking to dust off your resume, here are some tips and tools for landing your dream job in this fast-growing industry.

Develop Your Personal Brand

Start With a Self Assessment

Your job search needs to be strategic, focused, planned, and well-executed. Before any of that can be achieved, you need to have a good grasp on what you want to do, who you want to do it for, where you want to be, and what else is important to you. Frank Whiting of the Whiting Group recommends that you “begin with the end in mind.” Taking an honest look at your interests, values, personality, skills, and work style will help as you develop your personal brand and strategize your job search plan. 

Tools to try:

Define Your Personal Brand

These self-assessment techniques are also beneficial for developing your personal brand. If you already have a grasp on your interests, passion, and values but want to better communicate who you are to potential employers, honing in on your personal brand is an important next step. Mark Campbell of Cascadia Consulting describes your personal brand as “the essence of what makes you uniquely you.” Having a personal brand helps you meaningfully differentiate yourself from other applicants. “If you understand, embrace and essentially live your personal brand, it’s almost like gaining a superpower,” says Campbell.

Workshop for developing your personal brand:
  • BrandYOU is a five module self-directed course. This course helps you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your own personal brand and develop your own personal statement and an action plan. Try the BrandYOU course webinar. Webinar course access is free for ATTA Professional and Business members. Community Members can purchase the course for only $10 USD.

Refine Your Resume

Resume Writing

If you haven’t been on the job market for a while, you are probably coming back to learn that resumes are often received and read by automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). With this in mind, you will want to make sure your resume is ATS-compliant. Resume writer, Sarah Moore, says ATS-compliant resumes are more likely to be seen by hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals. However, although being ATS-compliant is important for passing the first step, remember that a human (not a software system) will ultimately read your resume. This means you will also need to write with a hiring manager in mind. The best way to do this is to customize your resume for each position you are applying for—include all of your relevant experience and education, and describe how your skills and passions will help you succeed in the particular job you are applying for.

In addition, even though it sounds cliche, be honest and be yourself. Your personal branding work and personal statement can really help you focus your resume and set you apart from other applicants

Resume writing resources : 
  • The ATTA’s Meet the Experts: Resume Building webinar offers insight into evaluating the post-pandemic landscape and what you can do to position yourself to achieve your professional goals. You will learn how to craft your resume to appeal to a changing travel industry. It also covers best practices for effective job searching and networking in a post-COVID-19 era. 
  • How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume Template  

Resume Boosting

Training and education are excellent ways to advance your career. Career coach and resume writer, Sarah Moore, says, “taking the time to further your education and professional development, and then reflecting that in your resume is going to go a long way. It shows you weren’t sitting idly and you’ve got a few more feathers in your cap and credentials and abilities which is incredibly important.” ATTA Ambassador and CEO of Huasteca.com, Ena Mildred Buenfil Zamudio, also recommends training–lots of training. She says, “learn about safety in activities, check what’s available in the market and innovate, buy services with the best tour operators and check it out; check reviews on Tripadvisor to know about missing details on services, take a marketing workshop to learn how to use social media to promote.”

Training and education resources:
  • The ATTA provides Educational Online Courses for a career in adventure travel including Safety and Risk Management, Guide Training, and Business Management courses

Don’t Forget LinkedIn

There are almost 740 million professionals currently using LinkedIn, and that number is continuously growing. Hiring managers are likely to look up your profile on this network, so as a job seeker, you will need both a resume and a LinkedIn profile. Take time to optimize your LinkedIn profile after you have written your resume and make sure they are complementary. Executive Coach at Proresource, Ann Marie Beebout says, “Your LinkedIn profile is your face to the world, your first impression and is a great opportunity to show your experience and to build trust with potential employers.” Use your LinkedIn profile to tell your story. A potential employer should be able to understand what you do, how you do it and why. For specific dos and don’ts of LinkedIn, check out the tools below. 

If you are looking for employment in a country that prefers other professional networking websites, such as XING in Germany, be sure to also create a profile there. Most tips that apply to LinkedIn also apply to other similar websites.

Find more LinkedIn tips:

Grow Your Network 

Networking is the most effective way to job search in just about every industry, but especially in the adventure travel industry. Jim Sano, World Wildlife Fund’s Vice President for Travel Tourism and Conservation says, “Don’t ignore traditional and old school career search tactics. It is more challenging to differentiate oneself in a digital world. The bulk of hiring is done through networking.” In-person networking has been challenging in the last year or so, but don’t discount the value of connecting with people in a digital capacity. People have learned how to make digital and virtual connections in ways that would have never been possible before the pandemic. 

ATTA Ambassador and board member of ConservationVIP, Kelly McCoy, recommends connecting with people in companies and organizations that you admire in the adventure travel space. She says, “ ask questions and look for opportunities to help them achieve their goals. Ask yourself, how can I serve? How can I contribute?” 

Here are some in-person and virtual opportunities to network with the adventure travel community and meet future employers: 

ATTA Events:

  • AdventureConnects: These free events are hosted locally in destinations or at conferences where the adventure travel community naturally gathers. AdventureConnects range from casual networking to group outings to structured peer-to-peer or educational roundtables.
  • Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS): Every year, the adventure travel industry comes together for our largest event of the year to talk shop, get inspired and enjoy a decidedly adventurous destination. 
  • AdventureELEVATE: This is an annual North America-based two-day intensive networking conference that brings together thought leaders for inspiration, education and insights into the trends that shape our industry year-round. 

ATTA Internship Program: For current students and recent graduates, this is an opportunity to learn about careers in a growing, dynamic, rewarding industry, while starting on a path toward being tomorrow’s innovators and travel industry leaders. This is a unique opportunity to work with a leading global organization, learn about the adventure travel industry, get exposed to events and activities that the ATTA organizes, and get a deeper understanding of how the industry works. 

Professional Membership: Connection to the adventure travel community is what ATTA membership offers at its core. Professional membership offers a library of educational resources and training courses for developing and professionalizing your business in adventure travel. You will also have access to the exclusive social network of ATTA members with a personal profile. Professional membership is the best membership category for job seekers who want to connect virtually with the adventure travel community. 

Free Community Membership: Community members receive AdventureTravelNews that includes job listings, invitations to free networking gatherings for the adventure travel community around the globe, and access to some free educational webinars. While Community Members do not receive access to the ATTA social networking site, Community Membership offers many free benefits for job seekers. 

In many areas of the world, travel is beginning to resume, and adventure travel will likely be at the forefront of this recovery. Now is the time to create your personal brand and fine-tune your resume so you’re ready to apply as jobs return. The ATTA’s Career Center is a good resource to watch for adventure travel jobs, and joining the ATTA at any level provides news and updates on the industry’s recovery.

Other Communities, Networks, and Resources: 

Notes for this article were contributed by ATTA Intern 2020-2021, Aakriti Gautam.

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