It’s a growing trend: stepping away from your career for a brief period of time. These “career breaks” are catching on because more people are designing their lives around their own goals and interests.
Some people choose to take a career break to raise a family or care for ailing family members. Others are interested in traveling the world (the so-called mini-retirement). No matter the reason for your career break, it makes sense to take it the right way.
How to Take a Career Break
Leave on Good Terms
Since Americans usually change jobs several times during their life, it’s no surprise when someone leaves a job to go do something else — whatever it may be.
But make sure you leave on good terms. Tie up your loose ends and finish the projects you’re working on. If appropriate, train your replacement. Maintain connections in your old workplace and build out your career network. Make sure you’re still connected to people so that when you’re ready to come back, you’ll know who to contact about job openings and other opportunities.
Keep Up with Trends
Whether you leave the workforce for 15 years to raise your young children, or take a year off to live in another country, don’t fall behind. Read up on industry changes, maintain your certifications, and keep in touch with your network. You can even make it a point to attend a conference each year.
If your field is something that requires ongoing education, consider taking classes or courses. I know someone who took two years off to enjoy life and travel with his family — but he made time to take online technology classes during his travels.
Find Something You Can Put on a Resume
If you leave to take care of your family, try your hand at volunteering, working part-time, or consulting.
One of my traveling friends does consulting and freelance work on the side. Once he decides to re-enter the traditional workforce, he hopes these experiences will help him get a new job.
With a little planning, you can take a break from your career, enjoy your life, and get back to work later — without too much trouble.
Do you want to take a career break? What’s standing in your way?