How To Make Your Gap Year Attractive To Employers

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So, you’ve decided to take a gap year, spread your wings and see the world – but you’re wondering how to make the most of it? 

All gap years are different – some are made up of just travel, work, study, volunteering or a mix of some of these things – but each one is bound to bring you many benefits, like helping you to explore new countries, experience new and different cultures, and broaden and expand your skillset. All things which will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

Recent reports show that around 230,000 18-25-year-olds take a gap year each year, and this trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down. On top of this, 88% of young people who take a gap year believe they’re actually more employable because of it.

Recruiters have recognized that taking a gap year helps applicants to stand out from the crowd as it demonstrates ambition and independence. But what can be challenging is how to present your gap year in the most attractive way to future employers. You want to spin it in a way that makes you look good and stand out, and your gap year should enhance your resume, not diminish it. 

Extracting And Presenting Your Skills

No matter what you do on your gap year, there’s a way to communicate the relevant skills and experiences on your resume to make it attractive to a future employer. Let’s look at the advantages that different gap years bring to the table and how to add travel to your resume:: 

Backpacking

You may be wondering how to add travel to a resume – skills like maturity, independence, being adventurous, and having exposure to the world can all come about from a backpacking gap year. While these things won’t necessarily land you a job, you may get points for being interesting and it certainly highlights your character. 

When it comes to writing your resume, you’ll want to include some activities that were highlighted on your trip that may resonate with or impress an employer when reading your resume as traveling on cv examples- maybe you did a special course or an exciting trek. Speaking another language in a real-world setting or exercising cross-cultural communication skills are all valuable experiences. 

Volunteering

Paid or unpaid, volunteering looks great on a resume. In fact, 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants with volunteer experience as it shows employers you’ve got courage, determination, commitment, and compassion. 

When writing your resume, you want to focus on your responsibilities and achievements. What did you do? What difference did you make? What was the long-term result? Did you have a decisive role or used organizational skills? Another trick to standing out is to give yourself a title to summarize what you did, like program coordinator, project manager, or fundraiser. 

Working

If you worked on your gap year you can definitely put this under work experience on your resume. For instance, if you taught English abroad, you could mention the qualifications you gained, the type of class you taught, the curriculums you designed, or any leadership skills you exercised. These skills and experiences can be valuable to future employers. 

Even if you don’t go abroad, any type of work experience on your gap year, paid or unpaid, is valuable as it shows reliability and dedication. Many employers like the fact you’ve had a job, or experience in the workplace, and you can make contacts for the future and hopefully get a good reference too! 

Studying

Being able to speak another language is an incredibly useful skill in all sorts of careers and shows hard work and dedication. These language skills could go under your “education” section as well as your “skills” section. 

You can mention how many hours you spent studying and the level you achieved (fluent, proficient, intermediate). If you are fluent in more than one language, you’ll definitely stand out. 

Tone of Voice

Whatever you spend your gap year doing, you want your resume to draw attention to how it was personally and professionally transformative. Taking this section of your resume seriously is key, and you want to write and speak about your skills and experiences with conviction. If you believe what you learned could be valuable for the job you’re going for, get that message across. 

Matching Experiences And Skills With The Right Jobs After Graduation

Depending on the industry you want to go into, different employers will value different skills and experiences. If you’re going for a number of different roles, make sure to adapt each resume and spin your gap year experiences to suit each individual role.

For instance, if you’re looking at getting into an IT company that has a strong global presence, you want to highlight skills like how you integrated cultural differences or your experiences in different parts of the world. On the other hand, if you’re looking to get into a science-related role, you may wish to put emphasis on any experiences you had with animals or conservation. Perhaps you saved turtles or planted some trees – it’s all relevant experience. 

Don’t Leave A Gap On Your Resume

When you decide to take a year out before or during your studies, don’t show it as a gap in your resume after graduation. Even if you feel your gap year doesn’t fit under work experience, it needs to be accounted for. It could simply be an entry stating the dates, along with the countries you visited and some brief bullet points about any experiences and skills gained, in between your other work experience. But whatever you do, don’t leave a gap.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

However you phrase or place your gap year on your resume, make sure to give yourself credit for your achievements. More often than not, experiences and skills you will learn on your gap year will be applicable. 

Running a travel blog, for example, would have likely given you SEO or social media marketing skills. Assisting an organization to protect an endangered species would have given you knowledge in conservation techniques. Just remember to strategically tailor the skills to the right roles.

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