Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How a Gap Year Can Help Graduates Find a Job

By Thiaga Kathirasoo

Job Vacancies, Employment Jobs, Employment

With reports claiming there are now 70 graduates for every available position, a focus on how your CV and life experiences can single you out from the crowd is essential. Gap year applications have shot up this year, and employers appreciate that gap year students can add knowledge and skills to their repertoire that can be valuable in the workplace.

Gap Year Skills

Individuals who choose to take a year out for travel, work or a charity, should make use of this time to think about how their experiences can translate to essential skills and abilities to benefit their career. Here are just some of the attributes you can showcase to potential employers:

Fundraising - Showing that you were able to raise a percentage (or all) of the cost of your gap year by working, fundraising or applying for a grant shows determination.

Staying Power - The ability to see a project through from start to finish.

Enthusiasm - A can-do attitude and the spirit to take on the unknown.

Making a Difference - Working and assisting charity and fundraising projects across the world is a fantastic personal accomplishment.

Actively Volunteering - Choosing to help others, putting yourself forward and signing up for a beneficial project shows great character.

Working as a Team - Gap years are often organised in groups, and especially if you are working on a project, you will have to use group skills to achieve your goals and get on with others from all walks of life.

Overcoming Challenges - Whether you are travelling, working or volunteering, you will undoubtedly face obstacles, difficulties and hard times during your gap year. Showing how you overcame these (and what you learned) can be a great subject to bring up in interviews.

Communication - Succeeding with interpersonal skills and problems of language shows problem solving and adaptability.

Employers wish to see proof that you have made the most of a gap year - even if you spent it working in your hometown, rather than volunteering in a third-world country - you should be able to show that you have grown as a person and expanded your life experiences. This can be on your CV, in a cover letter, a Video CV, your Personal Career Website or face to face in an interview.

A gap year can show responsibility, drive, ambition and commitment, and if you managed to fit in some related work experience along the way then all the better. By recognising the areas in which you have learned and articulate them in your CV or interview, then you will stand out from the crowd.

Interviews and applications often ask for examples of challenges you've faced, difficulties you've overcome and times when you've had to use your initiative. Your travel experiences can be great examples of teamwork, organisation, ingenuity, enthusiasm and passion. They can also help answer those tricky "what are your strengths/weaknesses?" questions, as your personality is sure to have been tested at least once while on a gap year.

Most importantly, a gap year should not just be a year off - for graduates particularly, a gap year should be considered to help improve employability, and for seizing opportunities. Any and every work and life experience is valuable, so long as you translate it into a tangible skill that is beneficial in your career. A professional career service help you word your experiences in a cover letter or CV to best show these attributes and gain the most from your gap year.

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