How to use a gap year to improve your CV / Resume
Most people think of travel as a break from the pressures of work and the commitments of daily life but there are lots of ways to boost your career and improve your CV/resume when on a gap year. When it comes to taking a more significant break, many people worry about leaving their job and fear that the gap in their CV will land it in the recycling bin.
Indeed, this is a realistic and obvious concern in the current economic climate. However, a gap year does not necessarily need to be seen as a career break. If you spend your time abroad wisely, you can easily turn that one-year employment gap on your CV into a real career-booster. In this increasingly globalised world with the rising demands of the 21st century job market, travel is actually one of the best things that you can do to develop both as a professional and as a person. Here’s why:
1. Improving Your General Employability
Leadership, creativity, initiative, lateral thinking, problem-solving, organisational or analytical abilities: the importance of such skills in the professional world probably doesn’t need much explaining, but for a recent graduate these skills might sound rather dry and abstract. When you are travelling, you are constantly practising and improving these skills without even necessarily realising it. For instance, undertaking a successful fundraising scheme to pay for your gap year may show that you possess analytical and problem-solving skills, creativity, innovation, lateral thinking and networking skills.
2. Gaining Relevant Experience
If you already have an industry in mind that you are aiming towards or if you are considering another career path, it might be worth thinking of activities that you can do that will give you some practical knowledge about that particular field; and hopefully a great reference afterwards. The best way to gain practical working experience is probably by undertaking an internship abroad or by doing volunteering work.
Doing volunteering work or undertaking an internship shows that you have spent your time abroad constructively and that you take both learning and helping people seriously. There are many sectors in the UK that are leading the economic recovery, and so volunteering can also help you learn these skills. For example, can you manage a charity’s social media whilst travelling on their projects? Furthermore, many companies are increasingly looking to hire candidates from outside their sector, including corporate giants.
3. Soft Skills
Excelling in your career does not just entail hard skills and past work experience; personality and life experiences are eventually what will make you stand out of the crowd in the job market. These soft skills can be acquired and improved on the road, whether it is during a six-month backpacking trip or a volunteering project, and they can be as important as any past jobs you may have had. Many employers actually feel that the average graduate lacks both experience and soft skills, so taking some time off before starting your career may actually give you that edge over other candidates. You might like to search our jobs abroad.
4. Social Media and IT Skills
Even if you are not particularly looking to work in IT, acquiring basic IT skills and being familiar with social media may open up a wide range of employment opportunities and increase your marketability in the workplace. Travelling is an ideal opportunity to learn all about the perks of technology and social media and to try to make optimal use of it. It might for example be a good idea to set up a Dropbox to store your valuable information, such as copies of your passport or to share pictures with your family and friends.
Some people like to keep a blog detailing all their adventures or even make their own travel videos to share on YouTube. Whatever platform you decide to use, being aware of the digital brand that you are creating whilst travelling might give you an advantage over other job-candidates, as most potential employers will search for your online profile. You can also choose to write for our website.
5. Learn a new Language
If you really want to get the most out of your trip, learning a new language abroad is a must. It is far easier and more enjoyable to learn a language amongst locals rather than between the confined walls of a classroom. Once home, you can easily use your new language skills to work for an internationally-focused company, where you may even be able to use those skills overseas again in the near future. If you are more tech-oriented and lack the linguistic talent to learn a new language, you might want to invest some of your time in learning a programming language, as it is one of the hottest skills in today’s job market! We have some fantastic Spanish language courses in Spain and also Portuguese courses in Brazil which might appeal.
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