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Do employers see a gap year as a positive thing?

Do employers see a gap year as a positive thing?

Assessing Career Options

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The trend for prospective employees to take a gap year is currently very fashionable with employers.

When employers are fighting to obtain the best talent, a gap year may needs careful thought. How employers see it is about timing as much as anything.

A gap year is about having an adventure and gaining some sort of valuable experience. The experience can be worthwhile, such as improving the lot of an African village; animal conservation volunteering - or it can be about giving yourself some space to think about what you want to do.

In all cases, you need to keep an eye on what your gap year is going to say to a prospective employer. So, if you've spent the year on a 'Beers of the World' pub crawl then unless you're looking for work in a brewery it won't count for very much.

Generally, employers view gap years very favourably as they are looking for more than just a degree from graduates. So anything about you that demonstrates how you stand out from the crowd, and any hidden qualities you have, will put you in good stead.

The life skills that a good gap year can show include initiative, communication and decision-making. If your gap year shows that you have these valuable skills, any employer will look very favourably upon you.

Taking part in an environmental project or conservational scheme demonstrates your independence and also develops your organisational and decision-making skills. These mark you out as someone they want to have on board.

Indeed, how you finance your gap year, or whether it is self-financing, also says something about you.

The gap year is as much about timing as anything. If you simply want to start work as soon as possible and gain your experience within a company, then no employer is going to question this decision.

If the recruitment environment is tough, they may well want to snap you up as quickly as possible. Taking a gap year when jobs are hard to come by will allow you to gain some form of experience before looking for work in earnest.

If you do decide upon a gap year, then the more constructively you use it the more you will get out of it. And don't forget, most employers under a certain age, will have done something similar themselves.

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