Around 90,000 workers in the UK take some sort of mid-life career break every year, whether it’s to travel the world, look after a loved one, or seek a new opportunity.
It is fair to say that, as you jump on the career ladder, you are expected to stick to one profession or move seamlessly from one job to the next until you retire.
But pressing pause and taking a mid-life career gap can have many advantages, such as reflecting on who you truly are and discovering what you want to achieve.
SIA Austria, the largest ski instructor academy in Europe, offers tips on how to make the most of a career break while exploring how to highlight the skills and experience gained to a future employer.
Follow your passions
Taking a career break can give you plenty of time to think about what makes you tick.
Gary Clark, gap year course expert and Academy Director at SIA Austria, said, “People often have a coveted passion that’s had to take a back seat in their previous career. Sometimes, jobs can be demanding and mentally draining, meaning you don’t have the energy to pursue your favourite pastimes when you unplug for the day.
“Career breaks are the perfect opportunity to brush up on skills and interests you’ve had to put aside for a while. If you have always had a soft spot for skiing, for example, this could be your chance to hit the slopes again and perfect your abilities.
“Following your passions could also open the door to new, exciting career opportunities. You could finally take that ski instructor course you’ve been longing for and potentially find a job that matches your renewed skills.”
Network and stay engaged
Mid-life career gaps also give you a chance to solidify your professional network.
When you are not busy working in the office on a day-to-day basis, you will have more freedom to attend industry events or join online groups.
This way, you can get up to speed with all the newest niche trends in your sector and have a vital ace up your sleeve when the time comes to seek a new job.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts and expertise on social media too. Online platforms provide you with the invaluable opportunity to network with like-minded individuals across the globe.
It only takes one person to be impressed by your refreshing post to start a new, stimulating business relationship.
Nurture your mental well-being
More than three-quarters (79%) of UK employees have experienced burnout at some point in their careers, with 35% reporting high levels of constant stress and exhaustion.
Taking a job break can allow you to rest and relax without pressing deadlines to meet. It will give you a chance to unwind, focus on your mental well-being, and recharge your emotional battery.
What’s more, it provides you with plenty of time to socialise and carry out things that make you happy. In fact, meeting up with loved ones works wonders for your brain health, as it helps stimulate attention, strengthen memory, and favour neural networks.
This way, when you decide to go back to work, you will feel refreshed, re-energised, and more resilient overall.
Promoting the positives of a career break
When you feel the time is finally right to look for a new role, you may feel nervous about explaining the gap in your CV to prospective future bosses.
That said, there are ways in which you can use your career break in your favour in upcoming job interviews. For example:
Be transparent – Don’t fall into the temptation of covering up a career gap by lying or extending previous employment dates. If your interviewer finds out, you may burn your chance of bagging an interesting vacancy. Instead, be completely open and transparent. People appreciate, and respect honesty, and more companies are beginning to recognise the value and benefits of taking some time off work.
Talk about transferable skills – If you have used your break to take on new activities, make sure to mention them in your resume or during an interview. If you have been solo travelling across Asia or South America, it will show that you are not afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Employers like candidates who are happy to take on unusual tasks or challenges, so flag any soft skills you have acquired during your time off.
Keep your friends close, your colleagues closer – When job hunting, previous colleagues can act as a valuable secret weapon in your back pocket. In fact, they can vouch for your leadership abilities, work ethic, commitment, efficiency, and professionalism. What’s more, if you haven’t quite found the ideal opportunity yet, reconnecting with your old co-workers might facilitate your job search. Whether through an internal referral or by directing you to the right hiring manager, they can play an important role in helping you transition back into the world of work.