How to: Start work after your gap year

There are many great reasons you might choose to take a year out…

But whether you’ve just finished up a year of travelling pre/post education, or you just needed a few months away to pursue something new, re-entering the world of work and routine can be a bit of a shock to the system.

To help you get over the reverse culture shock, here are some of our top tips to go back as painlessly as possible after your gap year:

Figure out what career is right for you

First things first: make sure you consider all of your options.

Returning to your old job (if you had one), pursuing a career related to your degree, working in the first job you find till you’re back on your feet, or trying something completely different, are all valid potential choices. There’s a lot to think about, so be prepared for some serious decision making.

Even if you’re pretty sure you know what you want to do, research it thoroughly before you start firing off applications, and can answer any questions if you’re invited to an interview.

If you’re still not sure, don’t panic. Your dream job could still be a mystery at this stage, so try not to rush into any big decisions straight away. With enough searching for roles that involve things you’re really passionate about, you’ll be setting yourself up to find the right job for you.

Focus on your work experience

Once you’ve got a good idea of direction, focus on any employment you may have done while away.

Think about all the things you’ve gained from your year off, however you chose to spend it. Are there any specific skills you’ve come away with that will help you sell yourself for the role? (Hint: there definitely are).

For example, it could be that your gap year involved working in a completely different part of the world. Use this experience to your advantage in your CV, and demonstrate your adaptability and desire to keep your skills up to date.

Demonstrate your transferable skills

If you haven’t been in any sort of employment in the past year, that’s fine too

Think about everything you have done in the past year and what skills you’ve gained from it, or how it reflects positively on you as a person.

You could have done anything from mountain climbing and elephant riding (hello adaptability), through to booking transport and arranging places to stay during your trip. And organisational skills don’t come much easier than that.

Treat every broken down bus and commandeered local guide as a way to demonstrate your extensive initiative, and you can’t lose.

At the very least you’ll have an excellent answer to the classic ‘how do you deal with stressful situations’ question. Take that potential employers.

Make looking for a job your day job

OK, so you’ve probably spent the past year enjoying the carefree approach to life.

But whilst adopting the ‘no deadlines, no real responsibilities’ tactic is great for your year out, you’ll definitely need a new routine when it comes to finding your next role.

To help settle you back into life ITRW – not to mention prepare you for a full-time job – start as you mean to go on by setting yourself a daily schedule.

Setting aside a few hours a day (and actually setting an alarm) to fully concentrate on finding a job will drastically improve your focus, productivity, and eventual success rate as a result.

If it’s left as an afterthought, your applications will only end up rushed and half-hearted – an approach that’s unlikely to impress recruiters in any industry.

Keep yourself busy

We all know how frustrating it can be to apply for hundreds of jobs and not hear back, but don’t let it destroy your soul and de-motivate you. Instead, try taking up a new hobby to keep yourself busy while you’re still searching.

Giving a small amount of your day-to-day another purpose other than applying for jobs will do wonders for your sanity – and give you something else to focus on.

And who knows, the hobby you decide to take up might teach you even more of those transferable skills we mentioned earlier.

Apply for jobs

Your CV is updated, you’ve done your research, and you’ve managed to readjust to the weather. The next step is to start applying for jobs.

Luckily, we know a few people who are hiring


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