Is 30-Something Too Old For A Gap Year?

Travellers: Shutterstock

If you plan to take time off to travel the world, Australian employers will understand – as long as you’re still in your 20s, recruiters say.

According to Kingfisher Recruitment director Mal Stuart, employers tend to look positively on a “productive gap year”, which he defines as time taken to “mature and consider what you really want to do”.

Such trips may involve volunteering or community-building experiences, he says, noting that backpacking tends to be “more self-serving”.

Travellers in their 20s may expect up to a 2-month job search on their return, Stuart says. Travellers in their 30s tend to take more than 3 months to find a suitable position.

“A gap year in your 20s is very common and accepted by employers,” he says. “A gap year in your 30s can send a different message – personal or career crisis. You’d need a pretty good excuse to do it.

“A professional [in their 30s] may be more selective. Salary expectations are higher [and] employers are quite suspicious of people scaling back their expectations because they’ve seen it before [where the job is seen as a temporary stepping stone].”

Australia has working holiday agreements with several countries, including the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan. Visa applicants must be aged between 18 and 30 for most except the UK, which accepts visa applicants aged 17-30.

A spokesperson for the International Exchange Program, an Australian organisation that coordinates working holidays to the US and Canada, says 26 is the most common age for working holidaymakers.

30-something year old travellers typically need to be backed by an employer if they want a visa to live and work overseas.

According to Daniel Connors, banking and financial services recruitment manager at Robert Walters, 30-something year old working holidaymakers are uncommon because of government visa requirements, rather than job opportunities.

“I don’t think taking a year off has an overly negative impact; I think the picture is painted by the rest of the CV and in some cases, can add a different element to the [candidates’ job] application,” Connors says.

“If you’ve had a fairly stable CV and take the year off to travel or do some charity work, then come back to the market, that doesn’t put you behind the eight ball.”

Connors told Business Insider that one job-seeker returned to Australia after two years in the UK and was snapped up by one of the big 4 banks because of her international experience.

The candidate worked in marketing in the education sector before her trip. She held marketing roles in education, property and finance firms while overseas, where she experienced a larger market and developed new skills, Connors said.

Another recruitment industry professional agrees that gap years can encourage younger travellers to better understand their options and settle down after satisfying their wonderlust.

But for certain employers, “gap years create just that: gaps on your resume”, she says.

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