13 June 2023

What are the Pros and Cons of taking a gap year after Uni?

After nearly two decades spent in education, the thought of taking a gap year after uni is understandably appealing.

But before you book that ticket to Costa Rica and prepare yourself for 12 months of fun, it’s crucial to remember that this is the most obvious time to consider your future career. Especially as it’s closer now than it’s ever been!

But don’t worry, we’re not here to give you a lecture. That’s your Mum’s job.

Our team of recruitment experts know how tough it is to balance the grad job hunt with your first taste of freedom – we’ve all been there – which is why we’ve written this handy guide on the subject.

So whether you’ve already plotted out independent travel plans, are focused about future job prospects or simply want to get the most out of this time, we’ve got you covered.

Here, we’ll touch on everything you need to know about exploring your gap year options, including:

  • What is a graduate gap year?
  • Does taking a gap year affect employment?
  • What are the benefits of taking a gap year?
  • Are there disadvantages to taking a gap year?
  • Are gap years really worth it?
  • And much more!

Let’s dive into it.

So, what is a gap year?

As the name suggests, a gap year after uni is pretty much what it says on the tin – it’s all about taking time ‘off’ after graduating university to do whatever it is you’ve got your mind set on.

Although many people choose to do this before heading to uni, straight after their A-Levels, many grads take up to 3-12 months before formally starting on their career path. The most popular reason for deciding to take a break is to travel, destress and get some once-in-a-lifetime experiences before going on to tackle the working world.

However, that’s not the only reason.

If you were unsuccessful in landing a graduate job while doing your studies – or are simply stuck on which direction you plan to take – then many use this time to reassess.

People also choose to join structured gap year programs (especially overseas) to help keep them in the flow of maintaining that CV, whether that’s for cash or transferable skills. 

Either way, gap years are as varied as the folk that take them.

But how do you know if taking a gap year career will impact your chances of employment?

Does taking a gap year affect employment?

Maybe you’ve already dipped your toe into scouting the post-grad job market (at Timberseed, we find the earlier you do this the better!) – or perhaps you’re waiting until after you finish your break.

Whatever you choose, it helps to make sure you have a solid plan when returning to employment following a theoretical gap year.

Although we advise our top graduates to be prepared (as the rush for UK grad jobs doesn’t start straight after graduation, it actually can start up to a year before) – for certain sectors and roles, employers might view a post-uni gap year as a negative.

If you are looking to make your mark in a highly competitive market, removing yourself entirely might not be the smartest move, especially if you’re planning on taking an entire year off.

This may give employers the impression that you are no longer in the ‘working’ mindset – especially if you have used the gap year to simply travel, for example – which may reflect poorly.

However, other employers might see your gap year as the perfect opportunity to hire a more ’rounded’ individual, with plenty of life experience to demonstrate as well as academic prowess.

If you’ve used your gap year to pursue extra activities such as volunteering schemes or further initiatives, these are all bonuses as far as hiring managers are aware.

But whatever you plan to do, make sure it considers the wider scope of your future.

Bali is beautiful, but so is the ting! of a job offer notification.

Illustration of struggle

What are the main benefits of taking a gap year after uni?

Of course, it’s not all straight-laced misery. A gap year after uni is an exciting opportunity, giving you the chance to stretch your legs and get your teeth into plenty of fun and rewarding things after all that studying.

Plus, you can make your gap year work for you. Here’s how:

  • Life experience – As they say, there’s no time like the present. That’s why it can be worth taking some months off to travel, explore new things and grow as a person is something to pursue while you have spare time in abundance!
  • Key Skills – From brushing up on your language skills to learning how to code or whip up that dish you’ve been craving, your gap year can be a fantastic chance to work on yourself. While we wouldn’t recommend putting your penchant for gateaux on a CV, a person loaded with demonstrable, transferrable skills is a sought-after one.
  • Work opportunities – If you already have an idea of the general sector or role you’re looking for, applying for graduate roles, traineeships or internships could help you bolster your skillset. Plus, you’ll have the perfect chance to cultivate a growing selection of contacts while earning some cash.

Are there disadvantages to taking a gap year after uni?

However, it can’t all be fun and games. The months immediately after graduating can be some of the most important in your career, so keeping these points in mind might help you make an informed choice.

  •  You may lose momentum – Going straight from university into a full 9 to 5 can be demanding at the best of times. That means it could be even trickier to get back into the swing of things after taking many months off, causing further delays.
  • You’ll miss out on other opportunities – Jobs can be a bit like sliding doors. One will crop up, and it can be months (or even years) until the stars align and a similar role crops up again. Some opportunities might even close their doors, as they only select graduates who apply within a year of gaining their degree, so that’s another aspect to consider.
  •  It could be expensive – If you’re planning on traversing the globe and living out of your backpack (or staying closer to home) – you’re going to have to fund it. That could mean taking on freelance work or short-term jobs that don’t pay as much, meaning you’ll have to realistically budget for your year out.

Gap year after uni – is it worth it?

It might seem like a cop-out answer, but gap years are worth it if you, the bright spark graduate, is getting something out of it!

In our expert opinion as recruiters, there’s no point taking it just because your friends are doing it, much like it would be real a shame to miss out if you really want those experiences.

The trick is to make sure you plan appropriately and are realistic about your career prospects when you decide to return, making sure you have done your research and are happy with your choice.

So no matter where you are on your job search journey, whether you’re starting out or looking to restart your applications, we can help.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do employers perceive candidates who take a gap year after university, and what strategies can individuals use to communicate the value of their gap year experiences during job interviews?

Employers evaluate candidates who take a gap year after university based on various factors, including industry relevance and the ability to articulate gained skills. Strategies include emphasising transferable skills, highlighting personal growth from travel or volunteer work, and showcasing proactive initiatives to enhance employability.

2. Are there specific industries or job roles where taking a gap year after university is advantageous or disadvantageous, and what factors should individuals consider?

Perceptions of gap years vary by industry. In fields like travel or volunteer work, it demonstrates cultural awareness and adaptability. Yet, in competitive sectors like finance, it might delay career progression. Individuals should weigh the impact on their career trajectory based on industry demands and personal goals.

3. What practical steps or resources can individuals use to maximise their gap year experience and ensure relevance to their career goals?

Researching relevant gap year programs or opportunities, networking with professionals in desired fields, seeking mentorship, and reflecting on gained skills are crucial steps. This proactive approach helps individuals make the most of their gap year and effectively communicate its value to prospective employers.


Get in touch with us today and discover how we can match your talent with the graduate job of your dreams – whether you’re looking to take time out or go directly into the workplace.