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I am currently at university, and I have been wondering how bad it looks to a potential employer if an applicant takes some time off after university before they start looking for work.

When I say time off, I don't mean time to get new qualification, or anything like that, but really a vacation, or something like it.

I am asking because I feel I would need some time to recover from the stress after the last year of university before hopping onto a job, but I don't want to hurt my employability right at the beginning of my career.

marked as duplicate by David K, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, mcknz, Jim G. Oct 6 '15 at 23:27

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  • 8
    Health issue vs. vacation is a different reason which may have different answers and more discretion. Not a duplicate. – WBT Oct 5 '15 at 13:35
  • 6
    Wow, a 3 month vacation! Someday... (after I retire, maybe ;) If you have the chance, and something specific to do, I'd say go for it. When I graduated, I was already working full-time at the company, so I just went back to work the next day. – Kent A. Oct 5 '15 at 13:39
  • 23
    People can easily take 2-3 months after their education just to find a job, let alone take a vacation. – Reinstate Monica Oct 5 '15 at 14:23
  • 4
    The only misgiving I would have is that schools often have career events near the end of the semester, which is a really great opportunity to connect with employers. It's harder to job search on your own. – Kai Oct 5 '15 at 14:35
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    If you're coming out of university, some places almost expect that you'll take time off. I only say this because it's easier to find a job at the end of the semester (as @Kai said, that's when recruiting happens), and you can tell the employer that you're looking to start in February (if your semester ends in December). This can also make your vacation more relaxing if you have a job in hand :) – A N Oct 5 '15 at 16:43
52

Taking a few months off after your studies is not rare, and employers do not take or read it badly.

It is quite normal and people do take 2-3 months off for vacation.

So taking a few months off should not affect your resume or deter prospective employers from considering your profile or otherwise have any negative impact.

As @Enderland's has rightly put in the comment below, some companies do let you take a vacation or some time off, before you start.

  • 21
    I'll add to this that some companies (especially larger ones who plan hiring further in advance) will be more than willing to just let you start later too, so you can get the best of both worlds - get a job offer starting 2-3 months after you graduate. I work with many people who took some time off before starting full-time. – enderland Oct 5 '15 at 19:32
  • +1 to @enderland, I was offered a position before graduating that would have started not even 2 weeks after graduation, I asked for 8 and was given it. I'm very glad, I got to spend quality time with my family before moving out. – 2rs2ts Oct 6 '15 at 21:32
23

It depends largely on how you sell yourself.

Bad example:

I was too lazy too look for a job and spent the last 3 months on my couch.

Good example:

I went to Australia before looking for a job because I knew that once I hold a job I would not have the chance to get 6 weeks vacation in one piece.

If you actually did something, that's cool, whatever it is. You should not look like you were just lazy.

  • 117
    I never understood how spending your free time traveling or doing other "socially acceptable" activities is ok, but relaxing your own way (even if it's lying on the couch) is frowned upon. – Zikato Oct 5 '15 at 13:47
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    @Zikato Because people assume that if you're lazy at home you'll be lazy at work, I suppose. – JAB Oct 5 '15 at 15:27
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    I would go stir crazy after a few days on my couch. – James Adam Oct 5 '15 at 15:28
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    @Zikato Going to Australia shows initiative, and also presents an opportunity for learning and enduring diverse life experiences. In general, these are things that are appealing in the business world (they look good on a resume). – nairware Oct 5 '15 at 15:57
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    This answer is a bit misleading, indicating that you have to have done something "useful" during those months off. Saying "I was too lazy..." is a bad idea, even if you follow that with "... so I went to Australia." You could simply say "I took a vacation for a couple months, since I knew I wouldn't have an opportunity to do that for a long time again." There is no need to explain further what you did, and the potential employer shouldn't care. Of course, if you DID do something that would look good to an employer, by all means, mention it. – forgivenson Oct 5 '15 at 18:04
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You are out of Academia where you have a set reliable schedule where you can be continuously enrolled and you are now into the world of real grown-up work.

A three month gap in your resume isn't even note-worthy.

My advice to you is to make sure you aren't under some impression that now that you have your degree and YOU are ready to work, that you are going to find a place, apply, and get the job at the snap of a finger.

If you do a medium level job hunt (2-5 resumes sent out a day), it will probably take you 2-3 months to find a job to begin with. So if you want to take a vacation and just chill, then do that, but the smart money is on passively job-hunting AS a vacation.

  • I concur on this idea. Finding a job is not easy, especially post graduation. It can take months, or even years to find a job depending on where you are. So it's better to start applying while on vacation as you probably won't land the first place you interview. That is assuming someone, such as a family or friend, hasn't already lined you up a job. – Dan Oct 5 '15 at 17:21
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    Whatever style of time off you wish to take (backpacking across a continent, or spending it with friends in your town), make certain that you have a long financial runway in case you don't get a job right away. It can be worthwhile to spend those few months doing something that has nothing to do with your career, and I don't agree that you should spend the time job-searching, though a passive search can't hurt. I suggest setting a firm end date for the vacation, calculating your normal cost of living for 3 months, then at least quadrupling that amount as your necessary financial runway. – Ari Lacenski Oct 5 '15 at 22:23
  • Well, ya. I mean, when I think "I need time off", that means I'm going to be spending the time in my pajamas drinking too much coffee and playing video games. Flip over, do an indeed search, and fire off a resume or 2 a couple times a day. When I need to "time to recover", the last think on my mind is backpacking across a continent. – user2989297 Oct 5 '15 at 22:38
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    It's very dependent on the area and the country I think, I got a job after my first application. – Verena Haunschmid Oct 6 '15 at 5:30
  • This is exactly what I did- ended up getting a job about 5 months later after being approached by a military organisation on LinkedIn- although the work was contract based (6 months initially, and ended up being extended by a couple of months), that 'got my foot in the door', and I went straight on from there to another role with another military organisation- again, because they saw my profile on LinkedIn, and got in touch. So, as well as actively applying for vacancies, sending out CVs, etc, also set up a profile on LinkedIn, and state your current position as 'Looking for work'. – Noble-Surfer Oct 6 '15 at 15:00
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Speaking from experience on both sides of the table, this had no impact on my desirability as a candidate to US companies. That said, as other posts have commented, you may no longer be applying during the peak "new hire" season for companies. This can have the effect of drastically reducing the job pool.

The way I managed to have my 3 months off without even the risk of impacting my job options was to apply to the job, win the position, then ask for a deferral for the vacation period. In my case, I took 3 months and rode my bike a lot, nothing too fancy. I simply asked my prospective employer if I could defer for the period and they had no problem with it.

Of course, with this strategy you run the risk of them saying that no deferrals are allowed. In that situation, you have to decide which is more important: the guaranteed job or the vacation?

1

Whether this is considered acceptable by employers depends which degree (Bachelors? Masters? Grad Diploma? PhD? other?), and which country: you already said you're in the UK, and presumably your prospective employers are in the UK too. Here are some tips:

  1. It's common to take time off, assuming you can comfortably afford it and are employable. But you can kill two/three birds with one stone by planning an interview tour, catch a couple of conferences (offer in advance to volunteer at them to get free/discounted registration), meet people in your target field, make contacts, still do lots of travel and relaxation, maybe even get prospective employers to pay for your interview-related travel :) Consider that as an objective (maximize both the fun component and professional benefit, while minimizing your cost), if you like. Some/most of that travel may even be tax-deductible (keep receipts and do your homework in advance). Utilize multi-city or open-jaw plane fares, to maximize the number of places you can visit, then you could ask each company you interviewed with to reimburse their leg of your itinerary.
  2. In the extreme case, I knew one guy in the US who after graduating set up a multi-city interview tour which went something like Honolulu-Texas-Yellowstone-Chicago-Virginia/DC-New York, with an interview in each major city and managed to get reimbursed. Make lists of friends/ relatives/ tourist spots you want to visit. You could throw in e.g. Vancouver, Cancun, New Orleans, Miami, Macchu Picchu. And/or take train/ coach/ rideshare/ one-way rental car ("drive-through") on some legs, so you can see more sights.
  3. I know you're in the UK, but look for cheap offpeak travel deal, airmiles special deal, airmiles accumulators, consolidator/student specials, round-the-world tickets e.g. JetBlue used to sell a one-month unlimited "All You Can Jet" pass for $599 in September, and also buy a month of wifi). Also shop around for introductory credit-card offers.
  4. You can also throw in a week or three of voluntary work; they may provide accomodation and meals and you get to do something useful and interesting.
  5. You can also keep a travel blog as you go, and that solves explaining how you gainfully spent your time, while also staying in touch with people and connecting with people, and maybe gives you positive SEO for your career.
  6. You can also interview now then ask for a deferred start date. This is common in the UK, especially when NCG/RCG hiring intakes typically happen in Sep or Jan (each country may differ). Then you still get to join with a batch of new employees, get the same new-hire training, househunt for shared accomodation together etc.
-2

I don't know exactly how is the culture of your country, but I took 1 year after graduating (having worked an internship previously) and 1 year after my first job. I was literally just scratching my (can I say balls in this site?). Anyway it did not affected my future references nor my possibilities in job hunting. I got a job like 1 month after I decided my ass was sore enough from the couch and here I am working again like nothing happened. I of course had to prepare for the obvious question about the gap but just being professional, said I needed some time off, and no more questions about it.

If you have the skills they'll hire you. After all whats 3 months compared to my whole year.

Again consider the culture of your own country.

  • I think balls is probably fine. Ass might be going a bit far. – DCShannon Oct 6 '15 at 23:28

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