How to Explain a Gap Year on Your Resume

What is a gap year

A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is usually a year-long break before or after college / university in which students participate in different academic and developmental events, such as travel or some form of regular work.

A gap year will take many forms: a year in a religious pilgrimage to Israel. In Guatemala, volunteering. Teaching English in Vietnam. Backpacking all over South America. Post-college care for a sick parent. This year can often be a positive event that can be eye-opening.

Although they arise mainly in the year before or after graduation, you may also choose to take a job-to-job gap year. If you are laid off with generous severance or quit a high-stress job that doesn’t feel like the right way forward, that may seem particularly appealing.

As its name suggests, a gap year can be a year long. You can find it challenging to sort out how to describe this period on your resume as you end your gap year and seek to return to the workforce.

It will not necessarily fit into the categories of “experience” and “learning.”

And yet, during your time away from the workplace, you have still gained a lot of experience and knowledge.

Here are some key suggestions on how to tackle your resume considering your gap year.

Create a Non-Chronological Resume

One alternative is to delete the gap year from the curriculum vitae (CV) or resume. There are many different types of resumes, and while it is more popular to have a linear version, which first describes the new experience, it is not the only choice.

You can also build a realistic portfolio based on your skills and experience rather than acquiring them.

If your gap year has a more casual atmosphere or if it occurred because of personal family situations you would like not to go into depth, a functioning resume could be particularly appealing.

You can include any abilities you’ve learned during your gap year with a clear resume while not mentioning how you’ve spent the time straight away.


List Your Gap Year Under Experience

This is a valuable experience if you have worked, taught, or volunteered. Why are you hiding it? This can be listed as any other role in your resume’s “Experience” section. Your gap year may also show that at many companies, you are a leader, independent, or have other desired qualities.

Take note of the job posting as you write down a description of your gap year experience. Tailor your points to illustrate the skills and activities listed in the job description.

Try to use strong, action-oriented phrases and measure your successes and responsibilities as much as practicable.

Reasons for mentioning a gap year are as follows:

teaching kids

ESL Teacher — January 2019-December 2019

  • Conversational English was taught in Tokyo, Japan, for adult learners.
  • Developed curricula for 2nd graders of English speakers, intermediate and advanced.
  • Implemented program improvements at weekly meetings.

Travel Blogger  — August 2018-December 2018

  • Wrote articles in the countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.
  • Reached out to a news site to sell my articles to share my experience.
  • Engaged with my Instagram followers and contacted hostel owners to share my experience with my followers in exchange for a bed.

It can sometimes be helpful to include only the year (and not the month) when you worked or volunteered at jobs for short periods of time.


Include Your Gap Year in a Breakout Section of Your Resume

If your gap year period is at odds with the rest of your resume, for example, if you have a series of accountant jobs and then spend a year developing access to clean water — you may want to put it off in another section.

This segment may be named “Foreign Experience,” “Voluntary Experience,” “International Travel,” or “Extra Events & Knowledge.”

Highlight Gap Year Accomplishments Throughout Your Resume

During your gap year, you studied and grew a lot as a human. And while some of the lessons you have gained may not work in the business world (say, the ability to find the cheapest hostel), certain abilities can apply, just like negotiation and or social media management.

Attach skills to Your Resume

Speaking a foreign language, interaction, scheduling and teamwork, and budgeting are some of the abilities you may have learned. You may have other skills to add (or remove) from this list depending on how you spent your gap year.

Those experiences can be included in the writing up of your gap year experience as well as in your resume’s expertise page.

Use the Summary Section

Think of this section as telling a (short) story— who you are, what you have done, and what you want to do next. It makes logical sense to include the gap year in the definition.

For example, your overview portion read: “World traveler and accomplished ESL educator pursuing a job for middle school students to teach the Spanish language.”


Go beyond your gap year as a nice break and evaluate what strengths and skills you have learned and how they might contribute to your next job. And apply this perspective to your course.

CV, Jobs, Resume