Many graduates take time out after university and we are often asked whether it is possible to secure a job but defer the start date. If you want to explore this option you need to make a convincing case for the potential benefits of your gap year.
Many smaller companies are not able to offer this option as they recruit infrequently but those employers with larger recruitment needs may consider your request.
It may also be possible to get deferred entry for postgraduate courses, although this is unlikely for popular and over-subscribed subjects or in fast-moving areas of science and technology where knowledge dates rapidly. Don't forget you also need to check the funding implications; a source of money may not be available to you a year later.
When should I ask about deferred entry?
There are several options:
1. Before you apply
This will ensure you avoid wasting time on applications to employers who won't consider deferment. However, many employers don't advertise that they will defer but will consider it for candidates who can impress them.
To find out which companies will consider deferring entry you can:
- Talk to company representatives at our careers events to see how they view gap years.
- Check recruitment information for graduates whose case studies indicate they took time out to travel.
- Find contacts in industries you wish to work in and ask their opinion.
2. During your interview
You can make a more convincing case for the potential benefits of taking time out if you can discuss your plans face to face. You will have the chance to impress them and persuade them that you are worth waiting for. Graduates frequently change their minds about career direction as a result of taking time out, so you need to convince them you are serious about their company/job and that your year out will make you a more valuable recruit. However, they could refuse outright to defer you, in which case you may need to weigh up your priorities.
3. Wait until they offer you the job
Your bargaining power is at its highest as they will have spent a considerable amount of time and money to get to this stage and so they have a vested interest in retaining you. Some graduate schemes have several start dates so you may be able to negotiate to join the company later. However, you run the risk of them saying 'no' and they you will have a real dilemma about whether to take the job or go ahead with your year out plans. If you do decide to refuse the offer, a positive point would be that you will have experience of graduate selection procedures to help you with future applications.
How we can help
If you have a dilemma about deferring entry, or any other career related query, come and see us on our drop-in service at the Careers Centre.