It’s a very popular choice for new grads to take a year off after graduating. Whether you use that time to travel, help out family members, or just to figure out what your next step should be, it’s a perfectly fine choice to make. However, it is something you’ll need to explain to your future employers. Don’t be worried, though! With the right framing, a gap year can actually be a great asset to have in your arsenal. Just follow these three guidelines throughout the hiring process to explain (and even sell) your gap year to future employers.
The most important thing you can do when addressing your gap year is to be upfront and honest about it. From the start of your application – make sure to acknowledge it anywhere you can. Note it on your resume, explain further in your cover letter, and head to your interview prepared. Most hiring managers will ask about it during an interview, so be sure to craft a thoughtful answer that sells your gap year as an advantage instead of a disadvantage.
Use It To Your Advantage
So, how do you sell a gap year as an advantage? You’d be surprised at the value hiring managers may place on the experiences you had during your gap year. Some positions have hundreds of applicants, and a diverse skill set and background can be a great way to set you apart. Hopefully, you collected a few impressive accomplishments or life lessons throughout your time away. List those out and how they contributed to your maturity and world experience.
Relate It To The Position
Once you have a couple of great selling points in mind, think about how you can relate them directly to this position. Did you go on a solo backpacking trip throughout Europe that required you to plan ahead to book travel, hotels, and sightseeing? That kind of foresight could really come in handy for a project manager or account executive who needs to be incredibly organized. Did you spend a year working for your family business before you decided to jump in and follow your own dreams? What skills did you acquire during that time? No matter what, there are ways you can relate almost any experience to your dream position – sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of creativity!
In the end, taking a gap year after you graduate does not have to be determinantal to your career. In fact, it could be just the thing you need to set yourself apart from other young job seekers. It’s all in how you frame it. Interested in more job search tips specifically tailored to young professionals? Sign up for our Career Kickoff newsletter!