What Are The Career Benefits of Taking a Gap Year?

gap years

Gap years used to be the preserve of the better off but have now become commonplace. Who takes a gap year has also broadened out, with many people taking sabbaticals or leaving their jobs in order to pursue their dream. But how, if at all, does a gap year help make you potentially more employable.

gap years

Stand out from the crowd

The image of gap years has moved on. While some people still do see them as just a long holiday, the reality is that for many people they make a valuable contribution to their CV.

In practical terms a gap year may allow you to gain relevant hands on experience. Having that volunteer work under your belt could be what helps you to stand out on a university or job application form. With more than 200 trips across 35 countries Real Gap have gap year opportunities to suit almost everyone.

Many potential employers and educators will take a positive view of someone who has demonstrated a bit of ‘get up and go’. Showing that you can step into the unknown and cope out of your comfort zone helps portray you as someone who is independent and capable. Real Gap offers gap year experiences in a range of more challenging destinations in Africa, Asia and the Americas as well as many in societies you are likely to be more familiar with such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and North America.

Travelingor working somewhere that’s very different to our own culture and lifestyle can also highlight tolerance and understanding, again seen as positive attributes.

In today’s environment with fierce competition for university places and jobs, it’s probably never been more important to ensure that you rise above the rest of the applicants. The combination of practical experience and personal development a gap year can offer undoubtedly helps.

Personal development

A gap year can be an opportunity for real personal development, even renewal, which is why they are no longer just for school leavers, taking a year out before going to university.

In today’s tougher employment climate a gap year could be the answer if you’ve lost your job. Volunteering overseas instead of hitting the job hunting treadmill straight away can really allow you to refresh and refocus. Your motivation and confidence are likely to be high and when you come back with new skills on your CV it could really help to make the difference in securing you that new job.

If you’ve been thinking of changing jobs or retraining then a gap year could be a good way of finding out if a career change is for you. Taking time away can provide valuable thinking space and you may even be able to volunteer in a relevant role to give you some experience.

More and more businesses recognise the benefits of having a motivated and happy workforce and your employer may be more than happy for you to take a sabbatical from your role, recognising that the advantages of gap year may benefit them, as well as you.


Shirley Jones has plenty of experience travelling and working overseas. She took her first gap year in Africa before university and after graduating she continued to travel and volunteer extensively. Shirley has written for many magazines and blogs and contributes to the Real Gap website.

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