Do employers think there are benefits to taking a gap year?
We say this a lot, “Taking a gap year is an amazing experience” and the reason we say it is because it is true. It doesn’t matter if you trek through Nepal, become a ski instructor or do some volunteering, you will have a great time and learn about yourself. But there is always a worry that it won’t look great on your CV. What will future employers make of your year out from employment or education? We decided to find out what the people recruiting for staff think when they spot a gap year on someone’s CV.
Robert Higley works in finance and is Managing Director at the investment bank Lazard. He told The Telegraph that when whittling candidates down a gap year can help the candidate stand out! “In a shrinking job market, when you have 300 applications for every place, some 100 of them will be stunning but few will stand out. Almost all will have first-class degrees. Those who have taken an interesting gap year will have had the opportunity to progress beyond merely achieving things. At interview they may well come across as personalities. They will have grown up.”
Robert isn’t the only one in the banking sector that feels that taking time out can improve a candidate’s chance of employment. “The ones that are useful are those that take you out of your comfort zone”. In a interview with the BBC, Jason Clark from HBOS said that he thinks a person who has taken a worthwhile Gap Year is an appealing prospect,
“What we want to know is what people have done, why they did it and what they got out of it.”
Clark place this caveat on what he said, “White water rafting down the Zambezi is not enough unless of course you happen to be hydrophobic and you can talk about how it helped you confront and conquer your fears.
One of the most famous examples of a gap year having positive results is the tale of the author and her year in Portugal. During a year working in portugal teaching English the unknown author J.K Rowling worked on her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J.K was hopeful that the change in pace of life would help her finish her first book, “ I left for Portugal. I took with me the still-growing manuscript of Harry Potter, hopeful that my new working hours (I taught in the afternoon and evening) would lend themselves to pressing on with my novel.The freedom of being away from “normal life” must have help as now she is worth £1 billion.
Recruitment consultants are big advocates of people taking a gap year. Lydia Fairman who runs Fairman Consulting a HR and recruitment consultancy feel that there are valuable way for people to gain skills that other who have stayed in education and graduated don’t have. “A gap year can be a great time to forge relationships with businesses and people, who at the end of the university degree might just be the step she needs to get that all important first job. Businesses will see someone who’s done internships, volunteered etc as someone with some valuable skills that a green graduate may not yet have gained. So if she’s really keen, support her, and help her get the most out of that year.”
We got in touch with one of the UKs biggest recruiters ITW and spoke to one of their Operations Managers, Matt Badger, who did a gap year himself so understand the benefits it can bring. “”As an employer who was lucky enough to take a gap year myself I would encourage people to take the opportunity if it presents itself. Whether the time is used for charitable work, developing skills such as a second language or simply experiencing varied cultures and improving interpersonal skills, my findings are that candidates who have invested in this time have a clearer, more confident and balanced view of what they want to achieve in their future careers. This is an attractive trait sought after by future employers”.
The jobs website Monster.co.uk feel that employers find can find a gap year as a positive thing to do. “Generally, employers view gap years very favourably as they are looking for more than just a degree from graduates”. Having additional skills is a huge plus for recruiters and if your gap year can help show of these skill are huge bonus. As Monster say you should use your CV and gap year to “demonstrate how you stand out from the crowd, and show any hidden qualities you have.. [as this] will put you in good stead”.
Boost your Career
It may be that you’re considering a more physical or hands on job. Recruiters like the Royal Navy can view a gap year as a huge bonus for potential recruits. Sub Lieutenant Taylor told Year Out Group that a gap year “certainly helps in the job interviews when you need to demonstrate qualities that put you above other applicants”. She also know that it can make a huge difference to your career saying that the self-awareness she developed helped her along the way. Overall Taylor felt that taking some time our boosted her career path “It certainly gave me an advantage as an officer in the Royal Navy!”