Don't mind the gap: taking a gap year can boost employability research reveals travelling improves a CV provided school leavers take the right type of gap year

London, UK – August 2016 – With results day just around the corner, school and college leavers across the country will be contemplating their next steps. Taking a gap year is an excellent choice for those who have one eye on their future career, as two in five employers think that a gap year sets their most talented employees apart (39%).

New research by Booking.com¹, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, questioned UK industry representatives responsible for hiring graduates in the workplace about their views on gap years. The results reveal the importance of selecting the right type of gap year and the impact it can have on employability:

  • Nearly a third say they would select a candidate who has taken a gap year, over one that had not, depending what they had done with that year (31%)
  • Working multiple temporary jobs in various cities around the world is the most appealing type of gap year to employers (36%)
  • Taking a gap year for pleasure is considered unappealing by just over two thirds of prospective employers (65%)

“When speaking to employers about prospective hires, we find that gap-year candidates are perceived to be more confident than school or university leavers. This is especially true of graduates that have taken the time to explore new parts of the world. Through working in jobs in various cities, graduates appear to appreciate cultural differences and, where applicable, have learnt new languages – skills that are extremely appealing to companies, especially those with a global presence. We would recommend that if graduates are considering a gap year, they explore the option of weaving volunteer work or a relevant internship into their travels,” said Gerard McVeigh, MD of Surge Recruitment House.

Consider your options

The type of travelling a graduate has done is something that employers across the country will take into account when choosing between candidates for a job. Over a third would prefer to hire a candidate that had worked multiple temporary jobs in various cities around the world (36%), whilst another third prefer someone who has travelled to another country to do charity work (32%). Another 19% would prefer to hire a candidate that had used their gap year to take classes abroad, such as learning a language, over someone who had done the same in the UK.

The type of gap year that will impress an employer also differs from industry to industry. With fierce competition for positions, those looking to go into business should keep in mind that 82% of employers in this sector would prefer candidates to have used their gap year to work in an office or gain professional experience. Proving your commitment to this tough industry is key, another quarter of business employers say they find gap years where the candidate has travelled for pleasure unappealing (25%).

In contrast, 41% of employers within the manufacturing industry would consider a candidate who had travelled for pleasure.

For employers in the service industry, gap years where the candidate has taken classes – such as learning a new language – are considered appealing, showing that the candidate has used the time to improve their skills. Those considering working in the creative industry should broaden their life experience by taking an interest in other people and causes, and spend their gap year volunteering or doing charity work. Over two thirds of employers within this industry found this type of gap year appealing (68%).

Top five types of gap year as ranked by employers

Worked multiple temporary jobs in various cities around the world


Travelled to another country to do volunteer / charity work


Travelled to several unusual countries to learn about their culture


Travelled to another country to go to the beach / island hop / relax


Travelled to multiple European cities with friends


Jason Grist, Area Manager UK, said: “As our young people are becoming more globally minded it’s interesting to see how this impacts their travel decisions. Whether they want to take time out to consider their future, travel and see the world or take on specific work experience, the research shows it is going to enhance their career long term. There are so many unique opportunities available all over the world – all of which will inevitably shape your personal growth and in turn enrich your career path. For those looking to organise a gap year, whatever they decide to do, at we make it transparent and easy to compare prices and availability for stays all over the world, all in one place.”

Broaden your horizons

Europe was chosen as the continent to visit that most increased a candidate’s employability (32%). North America is the second most preferable choice (20%), closely followed by traveling to a mix of countries, regions and continents (19%) where graduates will experience a number of different cultures from around the world. Bottom of the list is Australia, with only 4% of employers seeing this as a beneficial place to boost your career prospects.

Top five continents to visit on a gap year, according to employers



North America


A mix of countries / regions / continents




South America


It’s all about personal growth

The benefits of taking a gap year are clear – not only do you get to explore a different part of the world, but it can also help to bring out some fantastic personality traits that are invaluable in the workplace. Nearly three quarters of UK employers believe that graduates who have taken a gap year are more confident (72%), creative (70%), flexible (65%) and proactive (61%) than those who didn’t.

Top personality traits of those who have taken a gap year

















Attentive to detail


Hard working



Notes to editor

¹ Research conducted by with 205 employers in the UK. Respondents were male and female. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older. Data was collected in June 2016.

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About is the world leader in booking hotel and other accommodations online. It guarantees the best prices for any type of property – from small independents to five-star luxury. Guests can access the website anytime, anywhere from their desktops, mobile phones and tablet devices, and they don’t pay booking fees – ever. The website is available in 42 languages, offers over 937,000 hotels and accommodations including more than 448,000 vacation rental properties and covers more than 91,000 destinations in 224 countries and territories worldwide. It features over 93M reviews written by guests after their stay, and attracts online visitors from both leisure and business markets around the globe. With over 19 years of experience and a team of over 11,000 dedicated employees in more than 176 offices worldwide, operates its own in-house customer service team, which is available 24/7 to assist guests in their native languages and ensure an exceptional customer experience.

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