What Employers Really Think of Your Gap Year

Gap Year in the Utah Mountains

It’s that time of year – exams are over and the wait begins. The big question on everyone’s lips is: what next? Do I go to Uni, find a job or take a gap year? Are gap years worth it?

Many people get caught in the trap of thinking “if I don’t go to uni / start working now I’ll miss my chance”. It sometimes feels like you have to get started straight away, and sacrifice taking time to breathe after your school or university studies end. But with graduates increasing in number, it’s more important than ever to make sure you stand out in the crowd.


What Makes You Stand Out?

Taking a gap year has traditionally been thought of as an escape from reality: a chance to chill out, travel and “bum around”. But that’s far from the reality – so many people these days use that time to do something more productive that will enhance their CV, whilst still being an incredible amount of fun. I’m talking gap year courses.

It doesn’t have to be a ski instructor course like ours, there are so many options. You can teach English in a foreign country, undertake vocational experience, or volunteer with a charity. The world is your oyster.

We’ve seen an increase in students taking gap years before and after their university courses. So the real question is – is it worth it?


Transferable Skills

Whether you choose to get a qualification or not, you can make your gap year count. You can gain valuable transferable skills which employers and universities alike will appreciate.

Take a ski instructing qualification for example;;

1. You’ll be living in a foreign country

This is especially useful for those studying language degrees or who plan to do an ERASMUS year. If you plan to work for an employer with offices in another continent, this is a chance to show you can happily live abroad.

2. You will learn about another culture

Understanding that your way of doing things isn’t the only / right way is a valuable life lesson. Appreciating another culture shows openness and the ability to adapt.

3. You’ll learn a new skill (and gain a qualification)

Learning something new reminds you what it’s like to be a beginner at something! Plus it shows determination and motivation. Gaining a qualification is the cherry on the top – it’s something solid to show an employer. Even if they have no conection to your desired job/course, they will include relevant elements. For example a scuba diving instructor qualification would be great for someone looking at becoming a teacher, marine biologist or even a health and safety officer!

Ski instructor qualifications in particular are valuable as they are recognised within the EQA framework, and can enhance work and university applications. Ski Instructor Dearden Jameson explains: “As an instructor you learn people skills and what it’s like to work in a business with health and safety responsibilities.”.

A short-haired woman with a backpack walking through a busy square

Photo by Steven Lewis on Unsplash

So What Do Employers Think?

Due to the competitive nature of jobs, overseas courses and placements are more popular than ever, says Callum Kennedy, Director of BUNAC;

“With unemployment at a very high rate, a work placement – particularly one that is relevant to a career – will add value to CVs, helping young people to stand out from the crowd in the job market.”

Robert Hingley,, of investment bank Lazard seconds this: “In a shrinking job market, when you have 300 applications for every place, some 100 of them will be stunning but few will stand out. Those who have taken an interesting gap year will have had the opportunity to progress beyond merely achieving things. At interview they may well come across as personalities.”

What about Universities?

If you’re applying to university (or deferring a place), a gap year can be invaluable to your application too. Exeter University encourages applicants to explain in their Personal Statements “how their experiences will make them a better student in their subject of choice”.

Nottingham Trent University agrees: “You have probably been in full-time education from the age of five, so why not take a break? There are plenty of adventures to be had while gaining new skills and experiences that can’t be gained in the classroom”.

Many prospective undergraduates do worry about skills they’ve built up in school slipping away during time off. But you can get around that: the University of Edinburgh advises “In order to prove the best preparation for your studies, applicants holding offers for mathematics or languages degrees are strongly recommended to undertake work that maintains their skills during their year out”. Find ways to include that in your gap year, and you’ll be an even stronger candidate by the time you head back to a desk.

So in summary…

School and University leavers are under increasing pressure to apply for Uni or get on the career ladder. But many people don’t have a clue which course or career is right for them. So why not take the time to think, and make that time productive with new experiences and skills? You never know, it might just lead to something even more exciting…


If you think your next step might be a ski instructor course, why not find out which resort would suit you best? Try out our resort quiz – you might be surprised with the results!