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Is a Career Break Right for You?

"Career break," or "career gap" -- these words almost always elicit strong reactions among working professionals, whether they're considering the option or not. The idea of taking time out from your career is either emotionally liberating or terrifying, but hardly ever anything in between. There are a number of factors that you need to consider before taking the plunge.

Career Gap

(Photo Credit:Larry Johnson/Flickr)

While workers in the U.S. are hard-pressed to take all their vacation time, some workers in other countries are plotting informal sabbaticals from their careers. The Independent reports that more than half of the career breaks in the UK were in their mid-30s or older in 2013, compared to only 8 percent in 2012. News.com reports a third of Australian adults have taken a sabbatical or extended career break to go traveling, with 61 percent choosing to do so in their 30s or later, according to new research from Hotels.com.

The grown-up gap year, as it is now coming to be known, “...is no longer a rite of passage just for school or university leavers in their early 20s,” says Ms Katherine Cole, Regional Marketing Director at Hotels.com Australia and New Zealand. “Adults are very willing to put their careers on hold and go explore the world.”

Before we delve into what one needs to consider prior to taking a break, let’s first examine the reasons leading to a career break.

1. Your job is getting in the way of your life: Whether it is devoting time for a cause that’s important to you, starting a new family or caring for life’s exigencies, your current job is getting in the way and you are unable to devote time for your personal priorities.

2. You are forced out of a job:  Your company had to downsize and you are now out of a job. But before beginning your job hunt, you want to upskill yourself, redefine your career goals, and examine your choices.

3. You want to give a shot at an alternate career:  Your heart is just no longer set on what you do. You don’t feel challenged or energized by your job and you feel that you getting cornered in a field that you are no longer passionate about. You want to explore alternate careers, do something on your own – start your own business or freelance – and you want to do it when you can. 

4. You want to reinvent and re-energize yourself: Sometimes a break is essential to get out of the regular routine, to think beyond the obvious, and go the extra mile quite literally – traveling, learning a new language, a new culture. As designer Stefan Sagmeister shares in his TED Talk, he makes it a point to take a year off, every seven years, to re-energize and innovate.

“I close it (his studio) for one year to pursue some little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year,” Sagmeister says.

Sometimes, the career break can be what you need to truly understanding your work and its untapped and unexplored scope.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you taken a career break or are considering taking one? What made you make the decision? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. 1 salaryBOOST 05 Aug
    I believe it's becoming more and more common to take sabbaticals to take an extended break from your career. However, bringing the topic up with your boss might be intimidating. To find out how to phrase your request, check out my free ebook called "Get the Salary You Deserve: 31 Killer Salary Negotiation Letter Sample Templates". In it you can find a sample letter requesting a sabbatical. You can just replace the sample information with your own and send it to your boss. You can find the ebook here: http://www.gosalaryboost.com/blog/2014/7/30/31-salary-negotiation-letter-sample-templates

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