Whether your gap year is made up of work, study, travel, volunteering, or all of the above, more than four in five people who’ve taken a gap year believe they’re more employable because of it.1
In fact, recruiters have also recognised that ‘constructive’ gap years can help people stand out from the crowd when it comes to prospective employers and universities, as it can demonstrate ambition, leadership, and a genuine desire to gain new skills and life experiences.2
If you’re looking to turn your gap year into something employers will value, we look at five things worth taking note of.
1. Know what you want out of your gap year
If your preference is to sunbake your way across Europe, that’s ok. Just keep in mind, what you do will have different outcomes when it comes to promoting yourself to your ideal employer.
With that in mind, spend some time thinking about the type of company or industry you want to work in, what experiences a gap year could bring to a role in that field, and what you’d really be prepared to do.
To get some insight, you might also speak to someone in that line of work to get ideas around what skills would look good on your resume and how you might go about it.
2. Understand your prospective employers
Here are the top five types of gap years as rated by a group of employers, keeping in mind these figures were quite different when looking at specific industries:3
- Working in multiple temporary jobs in different cities around the world - 36%
- Undertaking charity work overseas - 32%
- Learning about different cultures in foreign countries - 18%
- Going to the beach, island hopping and taking time out abroad - 10%
- Visiting European cities with friends - 4%.
When it comes to the top continents to visit on a gap year, employers’ first preference was Europe, followed by North America, a mix of regions, Asia and then South America.4
3. Gain experience in the right places
Depending on the industry, different employers may value certain experiences. For instance, if you’re keen on working for an IT company that has a strong global presence, you might look at learning another language or getting professional experience in different countries overseas.
On the other hand, if you’re keen on hospitality you might look at bar work, or if you want a trade, a volunteer role where you build a school or orphanage.
If you’re not sure of the role you want, but are set on a particular field, another option is spending your gap year focused on different entry-level positions in the sector to help decide what you want to do.
4. Document what you’re doing
Depending on how long you’re away, it’s worth keeping a record of what you’re doing, so you can keep track of your activities and achievements, and any contacts you make along the way.
This will also help you to assess whether you have met your goals or if there are other opportunities you want to explore as part of your development while on your gap year.
5. Think how you’ll present relevant information
It’s important to be able to communicate your relevant skills and experiences to prospective employers and be able to convey these points clearly on your resume.
Focus on things like the skills you acquired, certificates you attained, whether you were responsible for other people, and examples that might show off your communication and problem-solving skills, or where you received positive feedback.
Planning ahead can go a long way in terms of ticking off what you want to achieve on your gap year.