Taking a Career Break in 2018
Looking at what options are there for you
An increasing amount of people are now considering taking a career break. Many do so to further their studies, some to travel, some look after loved ones at critical times and others enjoy being a full time parent for a while amongst other reasons.
Once considered career suicide, they are no longer a taboo issue in corporate HR departments and are often encouraged. Although there are no specific laws in place regarding career breaks, most organisations tend to have a policy regarding employees taking extended leaves of absence. Although it is important that this means that some do not and you may be required to resign.
Although a career break is a term which tends to be used interchangeably with a sabbatical, the two are indeed somewhat different. A career break is a period of unpaid leave which is agreed between employer and employee, with the employer usually allowing you to return to your role or a similar one when you rejoin the workplace. A sabbatical, on the other hand, is time you get off in addition to your holiday entitlement and is usually granted on the basis of your role and length of service within the organisation. Sabbaticals can be paid, part-paid or unpaid.
Most career breaks tend to last 4 to 6 months although some have been known to last up to two years when such commitment is required, for example, when completing a postgraduate course at university.
However study, travel and positions of care are not the only reasons why people seek some time away from work. Some use it to develop new skills like learning a new language, others spend the time volunteering to give back to their community whilst even use the time to grow themselves professionally, using their flexibility to network with the right people and some even launch their own businesses, allowing them to gain access to roles which may even be more lucrative than their previous career. It is really just a matter of taking a risk.
Many people who are considering taking a career break, worry about the “CV gap” which would appear in future applications and also fear what prospective employers would think about them. However if you ensure that the time you have taken off has been used to the optimum then this need not be an issue because you can use that gap to explain the experiences and skills you acquired that gave you a fresh perspective to bring to their organisation.
These new perspectives are why we are seeing more organisations allowing their employees to take a career break alongside the skills they acquire as they are often what an office full of monotonous employees working like cogs in a machine needs. New perspectives mean new solutions and new skills mean new opportunities which can be beneficial to the organisation in general. Perhaps the employee has learnt a language which would make opening a foreign office a lot simpler or maybe they’ve networked with someone who can develop their product or service even further.
Even the soft skills you learn such as organisation when booking travel, accommodation or activities or public speaking when you’re pitching your business ideas to potential buyers all end up creating a better, more well-rounded employee and person.
A sabbatical is often referred to as an “adult gap year” and although slightly condescending, it can be a good perspective to consider sabbaticals through. Our world is massive with endless places, people and opportunities to experience so why limit yourself to four walls every single day when there’s so much to see around you?
By Naina Bhardwaj