Image source: Unsplash/Cristina Gottardi
It may come as a surprise for many but taking a gap year is not just about having fun or blowing out steam. The misconception about taking a year off is widely spread and usually associated with rich, bored or indecisive people. Most think of it as an excuse to escape reality when in fact it should be considered as an investment in the future, a chance to broaden our skill set and gain valuable experience. It is a perfect opportunity to learn, volunteer and work abroad which is something valued by many employers who see it as a big plus. If put to a good use, a gap year will help boost your CV and increase your employability. Here are some good examples of how to efficiently make use your “time off”.
Plan it out
First of all, think about what you wanna do, what are your interests and goals. Your gap year is all about you, so focus on pursuing the things you like which will in return benefit the experience needed for your future career. Research companies you plan to seek employment or volunteer opportunities with. Make sure they’re the right fit for you, interest-wise. Although is easier to find work once you’re actually there it doesn’t hurt to send your cv to a couple of companies and see what comes out. If you don’t organize in advance, you’ll waste time otherwise better spent on traveling and doing something fun.
Volunteering always looks great on a resume. It’s a good way to show your future employers that you’re easily adaptable to new environments and that you possess prior experience in the line of work you are applying for. By being a volunteer, you’ll be able to witness first hand what’s it like to work in your field of interest and be certain that you’ve chosen correctly. Or you may choose to be a part of a cause important to you and make a difference in the world. Either way, you’ll gain valuable experience, work on your personal growth and enrich your cv in a way that will make you stand out from everyone else. There are plenty of volunteer programs available all over the world, all you need to do is choose the one best suited to your needs.
Improve your skills
Take advantage of every chance to expand or improve your existing skill set. A gap year is a great way to do exactly that because it offers opportunities to be proactive and get involved. If you’re looking for some work-related experience, seek out companies in your desired line of business. Take note of everything you’ve been doing, it will make a valuable addition to your resume.
Looking for a way to give back to the community? There are many organizations and local groups that will help you find affordable & trusted volunteer projects.
Another excellent way to use the time you have is to work on your language skills by taking up internationally recognized and accredited English courses that come in a variety of flexible formats easily adjustable to fit your busy schedule.
Polish your resume
After you have successfully used your gap year it’s time to go home and do some real work on your cv. You may face difficulties when it comes to choosing the right words and summarizing an entire year full of different experiences into a couple of short paragraphs. In order to avoid including a bunch of unnecessary information focus on your achievements and list a few highlights. First of all name the organization you’ve been a part of, describe your role in it and expand with what you have learned and which skills have you gained. Don’t forget to mention if you did something out of the ordinary, employers love to hear about things which separate you from the rest. It gives them a better insight into what kind of a person you are, for example, if you ran a marathon, they’ll see you as a strong and persistent individual who shows stamina and commitment. Another important thing is to create several versions of your cv, each specifically designed to fit the requirements of the industry you fish to work in.
Use your gap year the best way you can and don’t apologize for taking the time off. It’s a unique experience which will benefit yourself as well as your future employers. Developing a new skill set, overcoming many different challenges or learning a new language are just some of the things you bring to the table, not to mention having some great stories to tell on a bunch of work-related functions. But during all that time working and preparing for the future, don’t forget to have fun and fully enjoy the moment. The memories you create than are some you will cherish for the rest of your life.