Can a Career Break Make You a More Desirable Candidate?

So, you left university and jumped straight into the workforce. While others were taking a gap year to figure things out, you were working hard and building that oh-so-valuable experience that every hiring manager is after. Does that mean you’ve missed your opportunity to take a step back and put work on hold? Absolutely not.

While many people dream of taking a career break, few people actually do because they’re worried it will hurt their career. The truth is, a career break gives you time off to travel, volunteer or focus on learning a new skill which can make you a more desirable candidate. Here are a few ways a planned career break can actually benefit your career.


1. It shows you’re willing to try new things


The workforce is changing, and employers are doing more to attract and retain millennial talent. Whether that’s adopting more socially responsible working habits or giving employees a place to unwind in the office, they’re doing what they can to keep employees happy. In fact, more and more companies are offering sabbaticals as an employee retention tool by giving employees paid leave to travel, volunteer or simply recharge their batteries.

Spending a few weeks or months abroad is a great way to expose you to new experiences. You’ll taste new foods, discover new terrains and take part in cultural activities that can change the way you view the world. Experiences that push you out of your comfort zone and broaden your horizons make you more confident and fulfilled. Not only will you come back with a better attitude, but you’ll have developed a new perspective that could aid in your future job performance. Treat your career break as if it were a job on your CV and share the things you gained during your time abroad (better communication, a new language, critical thinking or problem-solving skills). Recruiters will have a more rounded vision of you as a candidate and a better idea of your adaptability and willingness to take risks.


Be adventurous, it's the perfect time to try something new


2. You’ll develop a more global perspective


If you’ve spent the ten, twenty or thirty years living in the same place, chances are you’re existing in a bit of a bubble. That doesn’t mean you’re not informed about what’s happening in the world, but it’s hard to truly understand another perspective until you’ve seen it first-hand. New people and new places can help you assess your values and beliefs, and even adopt a more empathetic viewpoint. And there’s no better way to really learn about another culture than by living abroad and truly immersing yourself in their language and traditions.

Not only will this benefit you personally, but it will make you a savvier employee. You’ll learn to consider different perspectives, apply empathy to your communications and think critically about every choice you make. How many people will your decision affect? Are you helping or hindering your target audience? And what comes next off the back of any project you run or decision you make? Using what you learned abroad to apply a more critical lens shows you’re a big-picture sort of thinker.


global perspective
Experience how other people live and how different the world is 




3. You’ll pick up new skills


Travel doesn’t just have to be about lazy days on the beach (though that should definitely be a part of it). Learn a language, take a course, spend some time volunteering – or maybe even do all three. When you spend more than just a long weekend in a new city, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to live like a local and truly understand what life in that city is like.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn English but never had the time. Taking a career break allows you to finally tick a few things off your bucket list. When you’re working 9-to-5, it’s hard to dedicate time to hobbies or really progress in learning something new. By using your travels to pursue something you’ve always had an interest in, you’ll have a stronger sense of drive. And the things you learn while you’re abroad are new skills you can apply in the workplace.


new skills
Learn a new language and immerse yourself in a new culture 


4. You may even discover a new career path


With so many amazingly talented job seekers, the recruitment game is shifting and we’re seeing the shift towards a candidate’s market – that means you’re in the drivers’ seat when it comes to finding a new career. More and more people are going freelance and developing portfolio careers, blending their personal and professional lives. By applying a bit of distance between you and a potentially stressful career, you may realize that you weren’t happy at your old job and it’s time to pursue something else.


career change
And maybe you'll find yourself a new career! 


Who knows where things could take you? Studying English abroad may inspire you to teach. Volunteering could be the first step to an illustrious career in non-profit. The confidence you’ll gain during your travels can make it easier for you to make the change and pursue something you really love.

Don’t let your current career path hold you back. With more and more people taking time off from their busy careers, chances are you’ll gain more than you think. And who knows, it can even lead to a more amazing career!


This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialized job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.


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