How to Use a Gap Year as Valuable Experience on Your CV / Resume
Work and travel: your Cv’s new best friend.
You’ve lived your life to the full by working and travelling abroad! But how are you going to show just how awesome you are to potential employers?
A gap year abroad can enhance your CV or resume. By using the right approach and describing your experience abroad effectively, you can make yourself more appealing to employers. Your CV should reflect the adventurous, confident and cultured individual that you are.
No doubt you’ll have picked up skills from pursuing your interests and even doing jobs you never expected to do, as well as having the initiative to organise working and travel in a foreign country. However, you are not the first person to have taken a gap year abroad, so you need to stand out. Use this quick guide to write your skills down in the form of an effective CV or resume.
Quick tips for an excellent CV
- Summarise your life-altering experience into a few tidy points on your CV.
- Cater each CV to the job role. Yes, initially it is time-consuming but one you have several versions of your CV to work from, it gets easier and quicker to alter them.
- Be specific! Use examples.
- Keep it relevant.
- Make your CV 2-3 pages long. No more!
- Say “working holiday” or “work and travel abroad” rather than “gap year”. They have more positive connotations.
RESEARCH YOUR EMPLOYER!
Don’t make your CV just another generic piece of paper. Before you start crafting the fine piece of work that will be your CV, research the company you are applying for a job with. What are their values? What skills do they require? You can usually find out some of this information on the job listing, but take this a step further by heading to the company’s website. Read the company statement, which is usually on the “About Us” page. This way you can get a feel for what they are looking for and what they are all about.
For example, say the company works with clients from all over the world. You can show on your CV that you have worked, lived and travelled with people from many cultures on your gap year abroad. If they are looking for a fast learner, you can explain that you were able to adapt to a new culture or language for a short period of time.
Proudly state what you accomplished
Landing a job on the other side of the planet is not a small achievement and you need to show this! At first glance, many employers might not grasp that working and travelling abroad is an achievement. In fact, they might even think that a gap year is a year of slacking off, sipping out of coconuts on the beach, and getting sunburnt.
So bear in mind you need to convey what you accomplished. Did you get promoted? Did you successfully work in a variety of industries? Did you learn a new language?
Don’t go overboard though. Your CV shouldn’t be pages and pages long, and no one likes an annoying bragger.
Use your skills from your work abroad
Unless you are made of money, no doubt you will have done several jobs during your gap year to fund your travels. If you tried a variety of entry-level jobs, you can reassure your potential employer that you have used your gap year to decide on the job you enjoy and are most passionate about.
Remember to use the relevant skills you utilised on you working holiday in your CV. Even the most basic jobs can be used for something. For instance, if you were a fruit picker and were applying for a role in catering, you can say you have experienced different stages of food production. If you are applying for a role in finance and worked in retail on your gap year, you can show you have cash handling skills.
For those jobs that don’t directly link to the job you are applying for, list the highlights of those jobs that made you stand out from your coworkers. For example, did you make any positive changes to the jobs that bettered working conditions or revenue? Did you supervise others?
Use your skills from your gap year experience
Travelling across the world, possibly by yourself, for a significant amount of time forms a huge part of your character and life experience. It should not be emitted from your CV! Even if the jobs you worked are not relevant to the job you are applying for, or maybe you didn’t work on your trip, there are still important skills that you developed by just jetting off in the first place. You could list your working holiday experience under a section titled “Other Relevant Experience” on your CV.
A few examples of skills gained from a gap year are:
- Travelling abroad makes you resourceful and helps you think quickly on your feet. There will be times when your travels didn’t go to plan, but you found a way to make it work.
- You’ve bathed in a different culture and can approach things with a different mindset or angle, making you much more creative! Employers in the media industry will love this one.
- Because you did not follow a conventional path of school-education-career, you can think outside of the box.
- You had the initiative to embark on a year of travelling in the first place! Then you actively searched for jobs in a foreign country, a place to live, etc.
- Communication skills were developed when you needed to navigate a country despite language barriers.
- Working abroad is a true testament to your adaptability and shows employers that you will be able to both adapt to different work environments and be flexible in the long run.
Remember, keep it relevant and only include the highlights! Employers don’t want to hear all about, “This one time on my gap year…”
Use specific examples!
Specific examples is where you will stand out from other applicants. Stories and explanations make the point your trying to convey much more memorable than vague statements.
It is likely that many people have said: “My experience abroad improved my communication skills.” Be specific about where you went and what particular parts of you trip improved your communication skills. At the same time, you want to make these explanations concise.
You can remember some of these moments to elaborate on in a job interview.
Reassure your employer that your here for the long haul
By now you have shown your potential employer that you are a well-travelled and adventurous individual. This could be seen as a concern for the employer who might think you are going to pack up and leave in a couple of months to embark on your next big adventure. Clearly state that you are committed to a career.
One last tip: try to show that same enthusiasm that you had when leaving for your gap year! Getting this job is just part of your next adventure. This enthusiasm will shine through to your employer.
More ways gap years are good for you.
Find more reasons why a year abroad would be the best decision of your life:
- 10 Ways to Convince Your Parents to Let You Take a Gap Year
- 9 Ways to Convince Your Kids to Take a Gap Year in New Zealand
- 17 Lessons That Only Backpacking in New Zealand Can Teach You
The next step is to see if you can get a working holiday visa to New Zealand, with WorkingHolidayNewZealand.com‘s free eligibility test.
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