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How To Take A Gap Year (Or Two) Without Ruining Your Future

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Feb. 7 2020, Published 12:20 p.m. ET

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People are usually afraid of having any period of time that’s unaccounted for on a resume. Yet, the reality is that life happens and sometimes there are going to be periods that at first sight are not productive.

The gap could happen as soon as college is done before jumping into a career. Or, it could be after you’ve been carefully crafting your career for years and now need a break.

It doesn’t matter why or when there is that period with no work-related experience. There are ways to take that time and not have it negatively impact your future or current career prospects.

In this article, we will cover some ways to plan out your gap year in a way that may actually strengthen your resume.

Have a purpose 

Okay, you want to travel for a year before you start your career or have a family when things get more difficult. You want to travel while you are still young and not tied down.

It is possible to do this and still have it look good for you later if you have a purpose besides just having a long spring break.

For instance, you can set out with the goal of becoming fluent in a foreign language and spending a year in another country. 

You can also identify careers you will be interested in and learn about the skills and network you might need to succeed. It is totally okay to have a new career. For instance, you can pursue your passion of becoming a nurse by joining Wilkes University School of Nursing.

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The time you spend out on your own can be spent building up some credentials. There is the possibility of teaching English abroad which can help you learn skills that can be transferred. Volunteering is another way to stand out on your resume.

Lastly, starting an online business and working for yourself for a while can be a good look for prospective employers. Check out money monarch for some ideas on how to work online.

Keep networking

While you are traveling or at least not actively job-hunting, try to keep networking to stay on people’s radars so you still have some opportunities. 

A good idea is to reach out to people in the industry you hope to break into. Find people that can answer questions for you that you have about the field and what you should do when you are ready to finish up your gap year.

You’ll definitely be remembered and they may prove to be valuable when you are looking for your name to be considered.

If you decide to volunteer then try to have it be somewhat related to your field of interest so you can create some connections that may turn into a job recommendation.

Have a clear message

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You’ll certainly be asked about your experiences when you were off traveling or whatever it was you were doing. Make sure that the experience can be shown to have taught you some valuable lessons that you can communicate in an interview.

If you can demonstrate that you learned some lessons or skills during that time that can help you bring something to the table, then you may find that the gap year gave you an advantage over other candidates that went the traditional route. 

[Editor’s note: This post is produced by one of our trusted partners.]

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