Can a career break also be a good career move?

lifestyle design — By on September 10, 2010 at 6:20 am
Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina

At the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina.

We recently heard Lillie Marshall discuss her experiences from the one-year leave of absence she took from teaching in order to travel, and about the Meet, Plan, Go! event that is being held Tuesday evening in 13 cities across North America. So now is a good time to check out a recent story that was published by the U.K. Independent about why an extended career break can be a good career move.

Career breaks are no longer the sole preserve of university graduates looking to broaden their horizons on gap years before plunging themselves into the world of work. In fact, about 90,000 people every year – 60 per cent of them women – take some sort of career break. Typically, these individuals are in their late twenties or early thirties, although an increasing number are in their forties and fifties.

A career break is a period of unpaid leave from work which is agreed with your employer, who will allow you to return to a similar role on your return…The most common length of break is four to six months, although a year is not unusual and some take up to two years.

Yes, the title of the article does mention that this can also be a good career move. And the story points out one example of a woman who reaffirmed her commitment to her job and career while she was away and turned that enthusiasm into a promotion soon after she returned. There are others, of course, who decide to change careers entirely:

Ms Morgan-Trimmer speaks from experience. She embarked on a four-month world trip that took in South-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand while she was working for a gap-year company. “My inspiration was that I was jealous of all the youngsters I was advising,” she recalls. “One of my main aims was to be brave and try new things. It’s easier when you’re away from home because you’re forced to face challenges.”

She also uncovered a hidden talent for scuba-diving. “I was the typical chubby girl who was always last to be picked for the teams at school, so to be told I was good at a sport was a pleasant surprise,” she jokes.

Her return to Britain saw her set up a business advising other would-be career breakers. “I had found it hard to organise everything before I left, particularly boring stuff such as council tax, so used my experiences to help make it easier for others.”

There is more information in the full article. But don’t just read that one story. You can check out my book and my overview of career breaks, for one, but if you’re in or near one of the 13 Meet, Plan, Go! cities then make plans to attend that event and meet other people who have had this experience. I’ll be a panelist at the Boston event, so if you’re in the audience stop by and say hello!

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