If you have the security of time and money, then the option of taking a career break can be a very appealing opportunity. But apart from the psychological struggle of getting back to work when you want to return, you may find some barriers from employers themselves who may look down at the whole idea of taking time out.
People take a career break for many different reasons. You may be thinking about travelling, taking some well-earned time away from the daily grind or you may just need some time-out to consider your options in life. However, more often, it is not so much a straight choice, but a decision you have to make because of needs in your own daily life. For instance, as a parent you may need to take time out to share in child care at home.
What is choice?
Statistics show that as far as gender is concerned, men and women are even in the amount of career breaks they are likely to take – though women are just marginally ahead at 60%. Of 90000 people interviewed in the YouGov survey in 2013, 60% were women. That is pretty close – when you consider women also have to deal with maternity issues. Also, there are issues around child care, and other family direct concerns which, even in the 21st century, still traditionally falls to the female of the species. It is good to see western culture is definitely changing for the better though – even if the change is a bit slow – and stay at home dads are proving much more the norm.
So, career breaks may not always be 100% choice. There may well be an element of choice and the career break is needed to facilitate family happiness and processes. However, there are those who will look to take career breaks to satisfy their own aesthetic motives. In a way they are clearly putting themselves before the company needs. Such cases clearly send out danger signals to employers and management.
Looking from the employer’s viewpoint
If you put yourself in the shoes of an employer for a second – apart from finding someone who meets a job description, they also need to know they are going to employ someone who is likely to stay with the company. If they are not likely to be committing themselves to the long haul, it could mean wasted training resources and an upheaval in individual teams and departments. It will also mean more time is needed to find another appropriate person to fill the vacant post – not to mention the cost of going through the whole interview process again.
Therefore, it is not surprising that an employer searching through the latest batch of application forms and CV’s will be keeping a close eye on the pattern of an individual’s employment in the past. If a prospective candidate has taken career breaks for no obvious or practical family reason it is likely this is going to give a bad impression.
Just as an employer would look at sacking offences and resignations very closely in employment histories, they will clearly see career breaks – even more so if there is a definite pattern throughout the candidate’s career – as a signal that longevity within the position may be in question.
Don’t put yourself at risk
If the employer has any sense, then he will bring these doubts up during the interview. But the fact is, if the problem is deep in your application form or CV, the candidate may not even get invited to an interview. They have fallen at the first hurdle.
Unfortunately, career breaks are still seen as interruptions rather than just part of your continuing self-development. And you can see the employer’s point of view. While you are away, so many things can change in work culture, training needs and processes. New people come who are aspiring for your place in the promotion queue.
There is also the uncertainty of whether the employee taking the career break will in fact return. Such a severe change of lifestyle for only a short period can be an enticement to total change as far as employment is concerned.
Our top tips…
If you are thinking of taking a career break or are on the point of returning to work, it is a good idea to have a plan of action in place for your continuing development. In our second article we will be looking at top tips to get you back up and running after taking a career break.
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