A gap period after graduation can give you the chance to travel, volunteer, and get work experience. It can be a time of reflection and learning as you meet new challenges. Plan carefully to make sure you can use your experiences to stand out from the crowd when you are applying for jobs.
Be clear about your reasons for taking time out.
These might include:
Timing is particularly important if you hope to go onto a course or into graduate level employment immediately after your time out, eg the timing of recruitment for graduate schemes tend to recruit a year in advance. If you are not going to be in the country, how you will be able to research opportunities and make applications?
The key is to plan ahead as much as possible. Many applications are online and some employers conduct an initial telephone or video interview of applicants, which can be an accessible screening process wherever you are. Sometimes you may be able to negotiate deferred entry to a course or grad scheme. Some employers have starting points throughout the year and many smaller employers recruit as and when they need staff.
Different career areas have different recruitment patterns, so give time to researching possibilities before you leave university. Read our Graduate Jobs page to help you to understand the recruitment cycle.
If you are clear about your motivation and are able to reflect on what you have learned or how you have developed during the time, employers are likely to view you very favourably. Employers recognise that an individual may have developed his/her skills, confidence or general maturity; it is up to you to demonstrate and articulate to employers what you have achieved and what effect this has had upon you.
Unexplainable employment gaps are not the best first impression from an employer’s perspective. Getting some temporary work whilst you look for something else is the perfect way to gain some valuable work experience, flesh out your CV and save some money.
Volunteering is a great way to gain new skills, demonstrate team work, leadership, time management and compassion. Find a variety of volunteering opportunities through the following links:
If you feel as though there is an academic area or skill you want to build on to help your future then take on some short courses. These are cheap (sometimes free) – ways to broaden your skillset:
If you need to get work experience once you graduate to boost your CV or to gain some specific experience in a sector you want to work in, you could try to get a graduate internship. Try some of these sites to find a vacancy:
Individual or group travel is a demonstration of independence, planning and resilience. To ensure you have a trip of a lifetime, make sure you have all the necessary documentation, vaccines, medication and insurance.
Also, speak to people you know who have been to the countries you’re interested in. They will be able to point you in the right direction to start your adventure.