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      Make or break: Should you take a career gap?

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      Taking a hiatus from their current career provides employees with the chance to explore new opportunities. Emily Bain, MD of PA recruitment agency Bain and Gray, reveals why you shouldn’t be afraid to take time out...

      More and more people are considering a career break or a gap year in a bid to escape the daily grind and embark on a new adventure to explore the world or embrace a new career. Recent research from Jobsite revealed that almost a third of the working population has taken some form of hiatus during their career. Similarly, according to the Harvard Business Review, 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving jobs or taking a career break.

      The increasing number of those taking a grown-up gap year stems from the 2008 recession, a time when some were unable to find work and decided to take time out.  While some may fear that a break between jobs or a change in career may be frowned upon by future employers, it seems many actually believe the opposite. I certainly see a career gap as a positive and try to educate recruiters to be on the same page.

      Starting afresh

      Of course, starting out in a whole new industry can be tricky. It’s likely you will have little experience and will need to start from the bottom and work your way up. However, it’s crucial that you turn any failures you experience into a success – not in the least to preserve your self-esteem. Try and see every hurdle as a learning curve and take something positive from each set-back. 

      If your previous job left you feeling demotivated, focus on moving forward to find a more rewarding, challenging, stimulating or lucrative role. This is a key time in your life where you can choose something you are truly passionate about. Interacting with your existing network and updating your profile on social media and job boards can demonstrate recruiters what role you are looking for. 

      Penning a new CV

      It’s common to believe that employers will make assumptions if you have taken a step back from the working world, but our culture is changing and more and more companies accept it. Fortunately, that old-school approach has shifted and the ‘picture perfect’ CV no longer exists. Instead, ensure you are upfront and honest on your CV – explain how your time out has provided opportunities to learn new skills and understand new industries and markets. For example, I worked with a client who has learnt how to weave in India, which was fascinating and proved to be a real talking point. Experiences such as this help to bring your CV to life and demonstrate your adaptability.  It is vital that you don’t hide your decision to take a break; honesty goes a long way in a search for new employment. 

      Returning to work

      When returning to work after your hiatus, it’s crucial to navigate your career change by being inquisitive and asking questions. For example, if you are returning to a similar role, find out if you need to retrain or whether you can use your transferable skills. A quick way to figure this out is by thoroughly researching the industry and role. Similarly, if you are thinking of changing your career altogether, talk to as many relevant people as you can: you never know who might notice you, your ambition and your initiative. Once you have made your decision, stick to it and believe in yourself – this will really shine through and put you in good stead with your potential employer.

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      Stuart O'Brien

      All stories by: Stuart O'Brien