01/21/2015 03:14 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Land the Best Holiday Jobs Abroad


I recently worked out that I have spent 15 of the last 20 years working abroad; ranging from tending bar and waiting tables, to teaching, to working on a stall that sold missiles at an arms fair (no experience necessary apparently) to standing outside a male strip show wearing nothing but a neon pink sign and a pair of speedos, the last being doubly impressive as the only six-pack my body has ever encountered contained Heineken. In the end it was only publishing a book that took me away from spinning the wheel of curious job choices and into a writing career.

Competition for these jobs can be fierce, not to mention deeply underhanded, and the hunters are no longer just the workshy and students. I now suspect the reason we haven't found a cure for cancer is that everyone qualified is off fruit picking or making cocktails somewhere hot.

So what can you do to land that perfect, or just convenient job abroad?

1) Be wary
I once mentioned in a hostel bar that I had applied for a job in a local café. By the following morning 21 other people present had followed suit. Now I'm not suggesting you trust no one, just play your cards close to your chest. And beware of preparing your CV on a hostel's computer. One girl I met left hers briefly unattended whilst she ran to the bathroom, and failed to notice the promise of extra curricular services to a prominent part of any hiring employer's body, which some comedian had inserted into the profile section in her absence. To be fair she did receive 46 job offers in a single day.

2) Appreciate the power of positive spin
A positive take on your qualifications is necessary, but there's a fine line between 'spin' and 'outrageous lies,' and only you know how close to it you're willing to sail. For instance 'drank in a pub' can legitimately be called 'knowledge of the hospitality industry,' but 'had a bath' does not qualify as 'some plumbing experience.' A friend of mine once landed a job at a Jewish Function Centre near Bondi beach by claiming to be Israeli (he's from Alaska and Catholic). Unfortunately his new career didn't last long due to an ill timed decision to eat a bacon sandwich on the way to work.

3) Confidence is a virtue, but so is owning a collar
Standing silhouetted in a doorway as you dive headlong into a carefully prepared spiel on why your name is another word for awesome can be terrifying, but is unfortunately necessary. However if you are going to do it, at least try and look the part. Just because it's hot outside does not make board-shorts, sandals and a Ramones T-shirt suitable job-hunting attire. I'm not suggesting you carry a suit halfway around the world but you'd be amazed how far a pair of trousers can take you.

4) And know when to shut the hell up!
It's a simple but undisputed rule, if two people are talking and one goes quiet, the other will inevitably fill the vacuum and almost certainly end up saying something stupid. On one occasion when I was the interviewer and had gone quiet purely because I was monstrously hungover, the applicant spontaneously admitted to an arson conviction.

He did not get the position.

Dan Miles is the bestselling author of Filthy Still -- A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails. "Hilarious. Like an alcoholic Bridget Jones." Akashia Hoosein, London Lifestyle Magazine.