Be it months or years, gaps on a resume always make professionals extremely nervous. Whilst they are not as common, they are definitely not the Career Suicides they’re made out to be.
The first thing to understand about a Career Break, Sabbatical, or a few Months/Years between jobs is that it is perfectly OK. One does not need to keep working at an unfulfilling or undesirable job just to avoid breaks in the Resume. In this article, we will tackle this dreaded topic by taking a deep look Three Key Aspects of taking a Career Break.
I. Purpose, Commitment, and Means
Before embarking on a Career Break ask yourself three questions honestly:
Why am I taking this break?
Am I committed to whatever the Purpose of my break is? and
How am I financially placed for this decision?
The keyword here is Purpose; one has to be brutally honest about why one intends to step away. Once you have identified the reason for your break, make sure you are Committed to whatever reason it is that you are taking the break for. To be clear this does not mean a plan with time-bound goals, not at all. All this means is that you will unwaveringly and without any guilt focus on the Purpose of your break. Considering your financial situation is probably the least exciting but most important part of your decision making. Make sure whatever period you intend to take a break for, you have the means to support yourself and cover all your and any dependents’ necessary expenses whatever they may be. If the means are not taken care of, the Purpose and Commitment will both suffer.
II. Taking Charge
At this point, you know Why you are taking a break, You are committed to doing so and You’re financially well placed. Isn’t that planning enough, why do we even have Section II? Well, this is where you take charge of your time whilst on the Break.
Identify an Accountability Partner
Identify and discuss the objectives of your break with an Accountability Partner. Make sure your Accountability Partner is someone who understands why you are taking the time and what you hope to achieve. Make sure this relationship is built on a mechanism that works for both of you.
Maintain an Achievements Log
Time-bound goals are known to cause anxiety of achievement and feelings of shame when you find yourself behind. Instead, take the time every morning to reflect upon your broader objective and think about what is it that inspires you the most about your goal the moment. What can you do today that will help you feel one step closer to your final goal?
Set up Dates With Yourself
The future of “Progress Checkpoints” is here. No one is as invested in your Career or knows what you need from your Career Break more than you. Set up regular “Dates” with yourself to think about your broader vision, how it has changed, and reflect on your Achievements log to see how far you’ve come. Using that, define and revise your vision going forward.
III. Presenting Career Gaps on Your Resume
This alone can be a reason why people don’t take a Career Break – the fear of having it look like a gaping Black Hole that will destroy all your good work so far. If presented right, a career break can enhance your resume and make you more desirable than before. Whilst updating your Resume take note of the following:
Be Factual, Unapologetic and Impactful
Highlight Career Enhancing Achievements
Concise Description of Future Career Aspirations
Like you have an Elevator Pitch about your accomplishments prepare one about your Career Break. Keep it to 2-3 Impactful sentences which contain Facts about Why you did it, What you achieved in that time and How it enhanced your professional abilities. On your resume, ensure all the bullets are factual, unapologetic, and impactful. Where possible attach a percentage improvement to any relevant skills. Ensure the “Profile” section in your Resume mentions in a maximum of 2 lines how you intend to apply your enhanced abilities to elevate your career. If you are changing your career track you would have invested in related skills in your career break in the form of Volunteer experience, Certification, or Freelance work. This is where you would mention how your future Career will benefit greatly from the time invested.
Finally, career break or not your life will be what you make of it. Take charge and make it happen.