Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Taking a break from a career has become an asset for your resume

With the covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, recruiters increasingly view employees who have taken a break as "an untapped talent pool." The way these pauses are perceived is changing, and as such perceptions shift, so are the values of the working world

Published: Mar 8, 2022 03:26:47 PM IST
Updated: Mar 8, 2022 03:51:46 PM IST

Taking a break from a career has become an asset for your resumeNearly 64% of women have interrupted their careers for parental, medical or mental health leave. (Credit: Jason Goodman / Unsplash)

Illness, burn-out, bereavement, parental leave, career change... there are many reasons to put one's career on hold, sometimes beyond one's control. But when it comes to returning to the job market, how do you explain this "gap" in your resumé to the recruiter? Don't be ashamed, talking about it could even make recruiters more inclined to hire you.

According to a large-scale study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of professional social network LinkedIn of more than 22,000 workers and 4,000 managers worldwide, more than half of workers have already taken a break from their professional careers. Among them, women more frequently put their careers on hold. Nearly 64% of them have taken a career break for parental, medical or mental health reasons.

"The good news is, sentiment around taking a career break is changing for the better: 46% of hiring managers believe candidates with career breaks are an untapped talent pool," writes Camilla Han-He, who heads up Product at Linkedin, in an article available on the social network.

Previously, taking a career break to look after one's physical or mental health, to work on personal projects or to dedicate one's time to humanitarian work were looked down upon, as they were not well perceived by the hierarchy.

Recruiters see career breaks as a positive

From a practical point of view, a timeline without gaps avoids being "blacklisted" by the artificial intelligence programs that sort through resumes today. But if you look deeper into this phenomenon, recruiters, like workers, seem to be breaking away from this taboo.

And the covid-19 pandemic has played a role in this shift. It has left its mark on the corporate world, with several studies revealing an increase in burnout, or employees experiencing a loss of meaning and satisfaction at work. In the United States, as in France, certain sectors such as the hotel and restaurant industry and the hospital sector have seen massive departures.

While corporate attitudes (and those of recruiters) are evolving towards better awareness and understanding of the need for employee well-being, perhaps the need for sabbaticals and time for personal projects will be seen in a more positive light and better integrated into a career.

Programs dedicated to getting a new career start

Several signs indicate change is in the air in this regard. On March 1, social network LinkedIn introduced a new feature to report and specify a "career break."

From now on, users can add this mention in the same way as they might any other work experience at a company. By describing the reasons for this break (taking care of children, taking time to think about a career change, or simply taking care of themselves), users provide details for recruiters.

And managers recommend addressing the issue. According to the Linkedin study, 52% of hiring managers think that candidates should talk about their break during the interview and explain what they learned during this period.

Many companies are looking at profiles who have taken a career break. Wells Fargo Bank recently made news by launching a program called Glide-Relaunch to revive the careers of workers with seven years or more of experience who had voluntarily stopped working for two years or more.