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Taking a career break or sabbatical

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If you’re desperate for a break from work, there are a couple of options open to you. If you’re lucky, your company may offer a sabbatical. Or you could take a career break – which basically means resigning from your job to explore other avenues. Here we take a look at the two options in a bit more detail:

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a formal system which may or may not exist within an organisation, depending largely on the company’s size and resources. It refers to an agreed amount of time off with the security of being able to return to your job at the end. Although your wages and pension contributions etc may be suspended during your sabbatical, you will at least have the guarantee of a job to go back to.

How long is a sabbatical?

The period of time depends on the company, but it could be something like three or six months.

Even if your employer does offer sabbaticals, they may only be available to staff members at a certain level of the operation, such as senior managers or directors. It can be a useful way of re-assessing your life or career, re-charging your batteries, travelling the world or spending quality time with the family, before going back to your same job.

The benefits of a sabbatical

According to career break coach, Sue Hadden, more businesses are realising the benefits of the sabbatical. She said: “Employers’ attitudes are changing as they’re realising that, in order to retain good employees, they may have to release them for a certain period of time. The organisation may benefit from an employee who returns with new skills, such as a new language or a professional qualification. In addition, the employee is likely to have a renewed and refreshed attitude to work.”

How to take a sabbatical

If your company does have a sabbatical policy, you need to find out about the maximum duration of the policy and the procedure for applying. Arm yourself with information on when you would like to take your break, how long you want to be off for, what you plan to do with that time and how your work could be covered while you are gone. Planning the break at a time which has minimum impact on your company may improve your chances, so arrange to meet your manager and try to have answers prepared for any questions they may have.

What is a career break?

career breakUnlike with a sabbatical, a career break means taking time out of work without the luxury of a job to return to. By resigning, you at least have the freedom to be off work for as long as you like – until the money runs out that is.

A career break can be used as an opportunity to decide what you want to do in life and whether your current career path is the right one. People taking this sort of break might go on to set up their own businesses, go freelance or to retrain in a new direction.

What do employers think of a career break?

Before deciding whether to take a career break, you may be wondering what potential future employers might think of someone who has been off work for six months or longer. According to recruitment experts, that largely depends on what you’ve been doing with your time.

“If you take on voluntary work or work on a personal project during your career break, these can add to your CV and perhaps help you move into a different job sector. I believe that, as long as you sell the ‘benefits’ of your career break to your potential employer, it could be viewed favourably.” (Sue Haddon)

If you’re feeling a little trapped, need a break, want to see the world or tick of the things on your bucket list, then at least you know there are options out there for you to try and regain your work life balance.

 

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About Linda Ram

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