Write a great graduate CV and covering letter for travel and tourism jobs
Make sure your travel and tourism CV and covering letter ticks all the boxes, from the key sections to include to the skills you need to demonstrate for a career in travel and tourism.
While a few of the large travel and tourism employers use application forms, most recruitment in this sector is by CV and covering letter in which you should showcase your:
- relevant skills
- work experience
- motivation for applying for the job at that particular employer.
Top skills to include in travel and tourism CVs and covering letters
Your skills, your strengths, your values and your attitudes are as important as your academic qualifications when applying for travel and tourism graduate roles. That’s because many vacancies are also open to those who haven’t been to university. You should be able to get a more thorough list of the skills required from the job ads and job specifications, but the following are needed in most careers in travel and tourism:
- Customer service – from meeting and greeting to soothing disgruntled customers.
- Communication and persuasion – whether you’re checking that the client has grasped the itinerary or using storytelling to bring a heritage site to life.
- Flexibility and a can-do attitude – unpredictable customers? Travel plans smashed by circumstances? You’ll need to stay composed, adapt and maintain your enthusiasm, all while keeping the standards high and inconvenience to the customer as low as possible.
- Cultural sensitivity – can you establish rapport with people from different backgrounds?
- Business awareness – you’ll need to have or be able to build a thorough understanding of your market.
- Responsibility and teamwork – can you inspire trust in your colleagues and earn their respect? Chances are, you’ll need to work with others to make things happen – and be prepared to make decisions.
Thankfully, these skills can be acquired and transferred from a wide range of work experiences, life experiences and extracurricular activities. Don’t be shy in promoting them in your applications.
Tips for your travel and tourism CV: the basics
Whether you’re writing a CV for a tourism management role, a travel agent position or another travel and tourism graduate job, make sure you’re getting the basics right:
- Keep your CV to no more than two pages of A4.
- Make it neat to look at with clear, size 11-12 fonts and helpful headings. Use bullet points.
- Tailor your CV to the individual employer and job. Think about which of your experiences will be most important or interesting to them and choose a CV structure and format that ensures these are prominent.
- Use active verbs throughout: e.g. persuaded, provided, sold, organised, offered, created, satisfied, led, liaised.
Key sections of a travel and tourism graduate CV
Below are the main sections you'll need to include in your CV.
These aren't compulsory, but many students start with a brief personal statement outlining their motivations for applying and why they would be a good fit for the job. General statements cause CVs to be binned, so avoid: ‘Hardworking individual seeks rewarding graduate job’.
Instead, if you choose to include one, make your personal statement more specific to your previous experience and career ambitions. For example, ‘Final-year student with various experiences in travel, hospitality and customer service, seeking a first role with an international company serving the needs of holidaymakers.’
List the establishments, qualifications, subjects and years of study. You should include your Leaving Certs subjects and grades.
For your university education, give your predicted or actual degree class and mention any projects or modules that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you have space, you may wish to highlight any instances where your degree has helped you to develop necessary skills for a career in travel and tourism. For example, were your seminar presentations a chance to hone your communication skills?
List employers, job titles and give dates in years and months. Use bullet points to showcase relevant skills, experiences and achievements.
Voluntary work/key skills
Many students choose to round off their CVs with a section such as ‘Voluntary work’, ‘Key skills or achievements’ or ‘Further interests’. The section(s) you include and the exact heading you choose will depend on the additional experiences and skills you want to showcase outside of your education and work experience.
How to write a travel and tourism covering letter
Your covering letter should clearly be unique to not only the travel and tourism industry, but also to the specific employer and job you’re applying for.
It should be no more than a side of A4 and, alongside an opening and an ending, it should explain two things:
- Why you? Briefly summarise how you are well suited to the role you are applying for. Refer to the job description and draw on your skills, experience and attitudes to demonstrate how you are a match.
- Why them? State your career aim (and how this matches the opportunity you’ve applied for) and what attracts you to this particular role and employer (based on your research
Example content for a travel and tourism CV and covering letter
Here are four responsibilities lifted from real job descriptions across the travel and tourism industry:
- establishing good relationships with local hoteliers, apartment owners, travel companies, and excursion agents.
- liaising with coach tour owners, hotels, restaurants and organisers of tourist attractions.
- liaising with local businesses, the media, design agencies and printers.
Tourist information centre manager
- collating information on and working with tourist attractions and other relevant organisations
Each job description is seeking a candidate with the ability to work with other organisations for the benefit of the client. Relevant skills include networking, communication and organisation. If you were writing a CV or covering letter for one of these roles, you would want to draw attention to any experiences you have that demonstrate these skills. You will need to do so in your own words but below are two examples of how you could achieve this.
In your CV, for example, you might highlight a time where you have liaised with somebody to secure supplies or services:
Secretary, Abingdon History Society, 2022 to present
- Organised a tour of Bratislava, securing guides from Comenius University in Bratislava; budgeted the trip.
While in your covering letter, you might write something along the lines of:
‘I would very much like the opportunity to work as a tour manager and establish good relationships with local hoteliers, apartment owners, travel companies and excursion agents. I believe I have the networking skills and drive to do this. As a member of my university’s history society, I helped to organise a trip to Bratislava. In order to add value to the experience, I secured the agreement of members of the history society at Comenius University in Bratislava to act as local guides. The initiative was appreciated by our society members who said it was one of the highlights of the trip.’
Remember: it’s not just your travel and tourism experience that can help you to demonstrate important skills. There are plenty of other scenarios that we could have drawn on in this instance, such as liaising with local coach companies to reduce the cost of transport for your rugby team, arranging catering for a social event at your part-time job or contacting local printers to produce a flyer for your theatre society’s upcoming show.