CAREER BREAK: FRIEND OR FOE?

Career breaks are a common theme in many conversations I have. I’d estimate at least half of the people I speak to and meet have had one.

Common reasons include an interstate or international move, studying or retraining, having children, volunteering, caring for family members, starting a side business, and my personal favourite, travelling the world.

As the ‘middle’ person between candidates looking for their next role and the potential employer, I sometimes find myself explaining and justifying these ‘gaps’ in candidates’ CVs.

When I first started working in recruitment in 2005, it wasn’t uncommon for a potential employer to decline to interview someone who had ‘jumped around too much’ or had ‘gaps’ in their CV. At this point in time, I might’ve argued that a career break is more foe than friend.

Fortunately, these conversations are less common these days. But they do happen. Which is why it’s important to know how to deal with them.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the career break. I’ve had several career breaks to travel, one to volunteer and another after my first small human arrived.

During each of these periods of time, I continued to learn and grow and develop as a person – and I’m proud of these ‘gaps’ in my CV. Sure, I’ve had to account for these periods of time during job interviews, but I would definitely say that my career breaks are more friend than foe.

Aside from speaking passionately about these periods of your life, my advice to people who want to know how to represent career breaks on their CV is simple:

Expect that people will notice a gap in your employment history and be prepared to answer questions about it.

Don’t leave a ‘gap’ on your CV, define the period of time (just like you would a job ie January to December 2016) and include a few sentences about what you did during this time.

I’m not suggesting that you list your job title as ‘parent’ and your employment status ’24/7’. But I do think it’s important to make mention of what you spent this time doing.

Aside from avoiding the dreaded ‘gap’, what you write in this section is a glimpse in to who you are as a person … and might lead to a great conversation about a place you visited, what you studied or how old your kids are. Who doesn’t love a bit of personal chat during a job interview?

So, is a career break friend or foe?

If you’ve had a career break (or several!), I’d love to hear about your experiences.