Are gap years good for your CV?

Can gap years actually benefit your CV? Is there a ‘right way’ to take one and is there an age limit on this sort of break? 

Today’s topic is inspired by this HR News post. Its headline states that gap years can ‘help applicants stand out.’

  • 63% of HR professionals think this is the case, according to YouGov.
  • As 44% of businesses rate ‘experience’ as more important than a degree, the gap year may also provide some valuable practical insights and skills.
  • This is all good news for the 88% of students who chose to take a gap year specifically to increase their employability.

There’s one important phrase that crops up several times in the post, however, and that’s the mention of ‘constructive’ gap years. This brings us to the following question…

Is there a right way to approach a gap year?

Of course, if you’re just looking to take a break from your studies or career (we’ll come to the latter shortly) you could spend your time doing whatever you please.

However, if you’re thinking along the lines of enhancing your employability, this is where the constructive bit comes into the equation.

The sort of break that looks best on your CV is one that features paid and or voluntary work. Each of which can increase your skill-set, confidence (alongside other attributes) and general experience in a variety of ways.

Is there an age limit on this sort of break?

Not when you consider that gap years can be referred to as ‘sabbaticals’.

Experienced professionals can also use this time to learn new skills and gain experience in sectors that they’re eager to pursue.

Is there a right way to feature your gap year on your CV?

Yes! Far from simply leaving a gap in your career history  – no pun intended! – you want to let prospective employers know how you used your time to their potential benefit.

Treat this as you would any other role. Provide the dates of your break, an overview of what you were doing, and real-world examples of your skills and achievements.

As ever, the specific details you provide should also be tailored to your applications.

But what if you can’t afford to take one?

We can’t all afford to take gap years, whether due to financial constraints or other life commitments. Don’t think this will hamper your applications and never force yourself to take one thinking it will definitely improve your employability. There are no guarantees of the latter! What’s more, there are so many other ways to make your CV stand out.

One of the best tips has already been shared above. Tailor each application with genuine examples of your skills and achievements from your employment, education and voluntary roles to date. Make it obvious to the employer why you’re the best match for their role; don’t leave anything to guesswork!

Ready to send your CV? You can apply for individual jobs directly or upload your CV as a general applicant. If you’d rather email your CV, here’s what to include in your cover note



The over-50s & 60s employment boom

How employees in their over-50s are changing our current and future employment landscape…

Did you know that…

  • Professionals in their 50s and 60s are largely driving the nation’s record employment?
  • 76% of ‘eligible’ job candidates are currently working.
  • More than 80% of new UK roles were filled by employees aged over 50 ‘in the past year up to April’.
  • The number of professionals aged over 65 also increased by 80,000 people within this period.
  • Furthermore, the over-50s group may become the largest working demographic by 2030. 1/3 of employees will already be a part of this group by 2025.
  • More than 8% of people in their 70s are still working, which is significantly more than a decade ago.

Are there enough opportunities for the over-50s employee?

Although the above all sounds highly positive, the demographic is still experiencing challenges.

  • 41% of people aged over 50 say there is a ‘lack of opportunity’ to progress with their current employer.
  • 34% do not know what is required of them to receive a promotion.
  • And 1/5 of this group attributes a ‘lack of training’ to their limited career growth.

These are concerning findings. Especially as both reports suggest older employees could help overcome the national skills shortage.

There are a number of industries that express increased confidence and greater opportunities for respondents.

Also in the news…

Looking for a role that better suits your skills and experience? Visit our jobs page. For further recruitment support, please call the office on 01225 313130. 



Building your transferable skills

By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about transferable skills. Yet how easily can you identify yours and do you know how to build them?

What makes a skill transferable?

The term applies to any key skill or attribute that you can carry from one job to the next.

While vital for us all, they become especially imperative for those that are…

  • Only just embarking on their career
  • Entering a new industry
  • Looking to make a major job change
  • Returning to work after a career break

Each of these groups may have to work that bit harder to demonstrate their suitability for a job role. So, rather than describing the skills gained from a recent job, they will illustrate their transferable skills gathered from elsewhere.

Example skills include:

All those personal attributes that spring to mind when highlighting the best of your abilities, including:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Perseverance
  • Project management
  • Reliability
  • Organisation
  • Budgeting
  • Record keeping
  • Research
  • IT and technical

As you can imagine, this list could become extensive and will certainly vary by individual.

Where do you develop transferable skills?

You develop these attributes over time and through a variety of professional and personal duties. For instance:

  • Your career roles to date
  • ‘Non-career’ jobs, such as part-time positions undertaken during your studies
  • Professional associations
  • Work experience placements
  • Voluntary roles
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Training courses
  • Travel
  • And caring responsibilities

Communicating your skills:

If there’s one tip that you take away from this piece, it’s this: make it relevant!

Employers want to see how closely you match the needs of their business and how well you’d ‘fit’ within their job role.

Spotted a job you want to apply for?

  1. Highlight the skills that the employer is looking for, then brainstorm all the ways that you’ve used these to date. Refer to the list above to prompt your recall.
  2. Compile specific examples to illustrate how you’ve used these skills in practice – and how you’ve used them to someone’s benefit. How has it helped your employer or voluntary organisation, colleagues, teammates, peers or personal/career development? Have these skills led to any specific achievements? Revisit our last post for more advice on how to showcase these.
  3. Weave your findings throughout your CV; include these in your personal profile, key skills summary and employment history. You can even highlight some of the most relevant skills in your cover letter or email.
  4. Finally, get in the habit of regularly reading job listings so you can quickly identify the most common key skills needed within your industry. See how you can build more of these both in and out of work.