Whether you call it a period of absence, a sabbatical, or something else, taking time off from work can either jumpstart your career or bring it to a standstill. Too much downtime between jobs can provide some much-needed peace and relaxation, but professionals can face a few pitfalls when taking a break. Your hiatus truly becomes what you make of it: some take the time to recharge, learn new skills, and polish their resume, while others focus on Netflix binges. Here are a few career development tips to help you return from your break with renewed passion and focus.
Take a Breath
When people take a break from work, it often coincides with major life events or periods of significant stress. Taking time to decompress and relax is essential, as quickly re-entering a high-stress career can immediately overwhelm you. Although career development is vital, your health and mental wellbeing are more important.
Explore New Fields and Follow Your Passions
Once you have taken some time to rebalance and destress, consider your career’s trajectory. Where were you headed before your hiatus? Where would you like to go next? After a period of rest, you may be inclined to change industries altogether. A career break is an excellent time to engage in informational interviews, volunteer opportunities, educational programs, and other pursuits that can help you gather information and ideas. Think about how you can incorporate your passions and areas of interest into your new career development strategy.
Prepare for Challenges in Career Development
Once you have thoroughly analyzed the pros and cons of making a significant career change, start developing your new strategy. If your hiatus lasts for an extended period, you will likely encounter some difficulty rejoining the workforce. Polish your resume, draft an effective cover letter, and prepare for interview questions about your resume employment gaps.
Focus on Your Network
When you feel refreshed and prepared to rejoin the workforce, contact members of your professional network. Who you know can buoy your job hunt, and this is particularly true after a period of absence. While your previous coworkers and colleagues can be invaluable assets in finding a new job, you should also consider the potential connections you have made during your hiatus. Volunteer organizations, classes, and social groups can all be great places to meet new people, and you never know who can point you toward your next professional opportunity.
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