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Putting your gap year on your resume

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There was a time, not too long ago, when people believed that a gap year was only for the flighty, the rich, or Australians and Brits who wanted to see the world.

The reality? A gap year is for anyone and everyone, at any point in life, with a wide range of budgets. A gap year can actually be a conduit to achieving your future goals, not a roadblock.

But here’s the trick — you need to know how to spin your gap year in a way that makes you shine. You want your resume to reflect the gutsy, confident, adventurous person you are. Your gap year should enhance your credentials, not diminish them.

Yes, maybe you drank too much beer, got sunburned, and spent more money than you planned based on a carefully-crafted budget. But there’s no reason to focus on that on a resume. Instead, you want to draw attention to the global perspective you gained, along with any new talents or special skills.

Don’t worry — putting together a stellar resume based on your gap year experiences isn’t as complicated as you think.

Resume Basics

Before we talk about how to put your gap year experience on your resume, you should know some basic do’s and don’ts of creating a great base resume. Once you’ve mastered these, then you can strategically place your International gap year experience on your resume or CV.

In general, your resume should have the following sections: header with your name and contact information, summary, education, and work experience. You can also include sections for language skills or a general skills section. We discuss these in greater detail later.

Don’t leave a gap in your resume. Even if your gap year experience doesn’t fit under work experience, it needs to be accounted for somewhere. That could be a simple entry stating the dates of your gap year, along with the countries or continents you visited (more on this later).

Do give yourself credit for your achievements. If you ran a travel blog, it’s likely that you picked up some SEO or social media marketing skills. Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, those skills can be very applicable and belong on your resume.

Don’t be generic. “I have excellent communication skills” is exactly the kind of phrase that makes recruiters groan and pass on to the next person. Illustrate your skills by giving examples.

Do include a summary (also known as an overview). It should be 2-3 sentences at the top of your resume that state what kind of skills you have, how many years of experience you have, and what you’re seeking.

Don’t use the same resume for every job application. Make sure you tailor it (especially the summary) section for each job.

Do write a great cover letter. It can flesh out your resume and gives you the opportunity to show more personality. Address the situation of your recent return from a gap year and your current intention of pursuing a professional career.

Don’t rush through your resume. Invest time from the outset to craft a couple of well-written resumes, and it will make your job search much easier.

Do prepare real-life examples for the interview. You can’t (and shouldn’t) cram every detail onto your resume; your resume is an overview, not an autobiography. But when you go into an interview, be ready to give a clear anecdote that illustrates exactly how you developed crazy-sharp negotiation skills – in another language! – by doing your weekly shop at the local market.

Don’t forget to make it clear that you are ready to commit to the company. We all know that travel has made you a better person, and chances are, you’re going to want to do it again. But that could be an employer’s biggest concern about your resume — are you going to pack up and leave a few months down the road? You need to ease their mind and clearly state that you’re in it for the long haul. (Pro-tip: Use your cover letter to do this.)

Types of Gap Years & Sample Resume Selections

There are different types of gap years: ones focused on traveling, volunteering, teaching English, or language learning. No matter how you choose to travel, you can find a way to extract the skills you learned and make your gap year relevant to a future employer.

One little trick you’ll see below is that you can separate out where the experience took place by putting two dashes after your title or even putting the location on a separate line underneath. Doing this globalizes your resume and draws attention in a positive way that you’ve had experiences all over the world.

…..culled from: Elaina Giolando

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