Gap years, or months can be a powerful mood-killer to any resume. What is a Gap year, exactly? A Gap year occurs when a high-school graduate takes 12 months off consecutively to work, volunteer or do another activity. Although some can view a Gap year as a negative, there are steps any student can take to assure future employers that you are serious about your future. According to statistics in recent years, Gap years are on the rise.
“Although statistics are rare regarding exact numbers of students who ask to be deferred or simply wait a year to apply to college, the percentage is on the rise according to various sources. The Boston Globe reported in May 2005 that Bob Gilpin, then President of Time-Out Associates in Mitton, answered twice as many questions regarding a break between high school and college in the spring of 2005 than in the previous three of four years. Common reasons for partaking in the “gap year” are to perform community service, travel, join the military, or simply regain strength after a rough senior year.” (http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/9551/students-participate-in-gap-year-more-frequently)
How do you make the most out of a Gap year? Here are 3 tips to turn a Gap year into something positive on your resume or college enrollment essay.
1.) Get a testimonial. What others say about you speaks louder than what you can say about yourself. Whether it’s a volunteer opportunity, or a one-of-a-kind trip, offer up a positive statement that was said about you in the experience or a task you accomplished.
2.) Offer to blog for your school newspaper about the experience, or a local/national publication. Not only will writing improve your communication skills, it will encourage others who are taking the same path to connect with you. Since 75% of all job offers are through networking, you’ll be branding yourself, improving your skills and networking all in one!
3.) Recognize it for what it is. Life experience is irreplaceable. Although a gap year might be deemed as some as a negative, you ultimately know what is best for you. If a year is needed to save up funding for college, or to focus on being a kid, that’s alright. You’ll have the rest of your life to get straight A’s, work hard and make a difference. One word of caution? Remember, what is put on Facebook and the internet, stays on facebook and the internet. You’ve made a decision to do what’s right for you, don’t hurt your future chances of employment or enrollment by putting photos on the web for all to see.
The most important point is to take a negative, (as a time-off,) and turn it into a positive. Your life experience is priceless.
Kate-Madonna Hindes, is an industry leader and national author and speaker on emotional integrity and authenticity in today’s online media. Her columns are regularly published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Women of HR, GirlmeetsGeek, Brazen Careerist and JobDig. She’s also the Director of Recruiting and Marketing for Brigham Group (www.BrighamGroup.com). With 15+ years of combined, published, experience for news media, state government and Fortune 500 businesses, she regularly covers national Social Media Technology events from an HR / Recruiting perspective, including CES 2011. Notably, she sits on the coaching panel for Keith Ferrazzi’s Relationship Academy, alongside Chris Brogan and Tony Hsieh.