Gap Years are a great opportunity to get to know yourself, and find out what truly makes you tick. You can use these months to prepare for college, and gain some experience for the years ahead. It’s good chance to try out different jobs, before you figure out what field suits and settle in.
If you’re looking to find work during your Gap Year, you should know beforehand what it is you want. It’s a good idea to make out a plan before your start your Gap Year. Bear in mind how much time you actually have, and whether or not you’re the type of person who needs a very well structured plan. Even if you think you don’t, it’s always useful to have a backup plan for every situation. Make out a list of options that seem appealing, and see what you would need to put them in practice. It might seem like tedious work right now, but it’s going to save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
If you find it difficult to make out a list of options yourself, you can go to a professional career advisor, or a Gap Year consultant. Gap Year consultants can help you plan out your year according to your goals. They can help you figure out the jobs you are qualified for, not just from the perspective of your skills, but your own personal wants. They can assist you in drawing up a list of abilities to highlight during your next job interview. Gap Year consultants can help you set up a plan for this whole period.
If you lack work experience, try adding some volunteer work to your resume. Volunteering can provide you with numerous benefits. It can be useful to make your resume stand out during interviews for paid jobs. Many universities are also interested in students who are proven to be proactive, and willing to gain experience. Through volunteer work, you can also meet a lot of interesting people that might help you find a job further down the line.
Develop Your Resume
When applying for a job, you’ll probably be asked to send in a CV. Don’t look at this as a mere formality. Spend some time learning how to write a proper resume. Don’t neglect your cover letter either. Since you probably don’t have a lot of work experience yet, your cover letter is the best way you can impress your prospective employer right now.
Consider an Internship
Internship programs offer a similar experience. Unlike volunteer work, internships can turn into an actual paid position, provided you can prove to your employer that you are qualified for the job, and you have what it takes to take on more difficult tasks. Some internships are paid, but most of the time you’ll still be unpaid. Look for internship programs that are aimed at students.
Going for temp jobs is a smart way of finding work during your Gap Year. Some recruiters might be reluctant to hire someone who is going to leave their job in a year. Temp positions are specifically designed when work overflow is just too much to handle, but not enough to warrant bringing on new employees.
Entry Level Jobs
If you want to maximize your chances of landing a paid job quickly, try finding an entry level position with a large company that usually needs a lot of employees. These companies are more likely to hire students for their, with little to no work experience. They generally offer training programs, so you don’t have to worry about your lack of skills in that particular field.
Develop Your Qualifications
You should also work on your qualifications during this period. Most employers require at least a high school diploma, so if you want to beat your competition, you’re going to have to do better than that. Getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is a very popular way of finding job opportunities abroad. Other training opportunities, such as apprenticeships or traineeships, combine the benefits of a paid job with those of a training program.
Don’t Neglect Networking
Networking is a sound strategy to find job opportunities in general, not just during your Gap Year. Meeting people in informal settings can be a great way to make new friends, and casually mention that you are interested in finding work. However, the best way to meet new people and scout for job openings is going to career fairs. Bringing up work in informal settings might feel a bit awkward. Job fairs are specifically designed to bring recruiters and prospective employees together. Talking to recruiters one-on-one before an interview gives you an opportunity to ask for advice, and receive some guidelines from professionals. Preparing a list of questions for recruiters will prove to them that you are genuinely interested in finding a job.
Leverage Social Media
You can try following the pages, and Twitter accounts, of the companies you might be interested in. Subscribe to the newsletters of companies, and job application platforms, to be the first in line when a new job opening is announced. The sooner you submit your application, the better your chances of getting the job.
If you’re trying to meet new people in order to secure a job, you should keep your social media pages in order. Your employer might want to check your Facebook page, while looking you up, so you should keep it as professional as possible. Your e-mail address should look similarly professional.
Don’t Give Up!
One of the common mistakes students make when looking for a job is that they give up to soon. You should apply for a lot of jobs before you can hope to get picked. This process may take a while. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t land a job immediately.
Your Gap Year can be a wonderful experience that enhances your career path moving forward as long as a you keep an open mind, and your goals in sight.
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Contributing Editor at Job Application Center. She has a great interest in everything related to job-seeking, career-building, and entrepreneurship and loves helping people reach their true potential.
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