5 bits of advice for when considering a career break

Luke Parker
5 bits of advice for when considering a career break

Whether it’s for family reasons, a new adventure, or simply because you’re feeling burnt out, many of us are taking career breaks to get away from it all.

For some it’s the opportunity to reflect on past achievements and make decisions for the future, while others it’s about change and being ready for something completely fresh and new.

Whatever the reasons, taking a career break is something people of all ages are doing.  


Not just for the youngKaron Campbell photo

“It’s no longer just the domain of students wanting to take a ‘gap year’,” Grafton Consulting Limited Career team Senior Consultant, Karon Campbell, says.

“It can be a choice for young people with 2-3 year’s work experience or who have just completed a graduate programme or cadetship – those who want to broaden their horizons and add some new experience to their portfolio.”

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should get out of the office

She also says new mothers (and sometimes fathers) may take a career break to raise their families.

“They may utilise eLearning and blended learning options to study or retrain. They may use entrepreneurial skills to start or develop a business idea. Or they may engage in volunteer or community work.”

However, Karon says the group she’s seeing the greatest increase in taking a career break is those with perhaps 10 plus years in the workforce who are asking themselves, “where to from here?”


A chance for reflection and future planning

According to Karon, these more experienced people “typically feel that they have somewhat lost control of their career – they may be looking at promotions that they are not sure they really want, they may be in a business area which is dying or moving in a direction they no longer enjoy, or they may be missing out on opportunities because they don’t know enough about them.

“Often people in this group will take time out to realign with their career drivers and reassess their career path.”

The career consultant says individuals at a later stage in their career may have a reasonably good idea of what they would like to do towards the end of their working career, but choose to take a career break in order to mark the end of one path and the start of a new path.

“They might use the time to travel, downsize at home, reorganise their time and finances, and fully develop ‘Plan B’, before reinventing themselves in the workforce doing something where they believe they can add the most value.”

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why you should get out of the office

Karon’s 5 pieces of advice when considering a career break

1.  Have a plan 

Talk to a career coach to define why a career break may be a good option. How does it fit with your career values and drivers? What is the end goal and how will a career break help you to achieve this goal? Is it a career break or a sabbatical?

Talk to your HR team about possibilities of time away from your role or organisation - will you leave altogether or take a certain amount of time away?

Key considerations are career drivers, aspirations, transferrable skills and of course finances.


2.  Build your CV before you go 

Include skills, experience, qualifications, and what you have already achieved. Focus on what you have done and, more importantly, where you have made a difference.

Continue to add to your CV while on your career break and include transferrable skills you have developed through volunteer work, coaching teams, working in a more flexible way (yes even the crazy temp roles build our skill set), teaching, training, and study.


3.  Network, network, network

Talk to contacts that can help you before you go with advice and information, and list contacts that you can talk to when you get back. Promote your decision and plans in a confident way and get as much free advice as you can.

Be open, see different ways of working, and be inquisitive. Know that some networking is about what you say, but lots of it is about what you ask.

Challenge assumptions about what you know and remain open to being surprised.

4.  Update your LinkedIn profile as you go 

It’s not a travel blog but it is an easy and effective way to keep your connections alive. Join groups, post links to articles and activities and follow organisations.


5.  It’s a career break – Have some fun!!!!!!!

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