Taking a sabbatical or a career break is a recent phenomenon for the Indian job market. While a study by the Society of Human Resource showed that as many as 17 percent of the organisations in the United States (US) allow sabbaticals yet for India it is still a very recent and rising trend.
Whether it is pursuing a passion or a hobby or an emergency at home, as working professionals it might be challenging to focus on some of these aspects. A sabbatical might be exactly what you are looking for.
A study by the World Bank and National Sample Survey Organisation said that around 20 million Indian women quit jobs between 2004-12 and around 65-70 per cent of women who quit never returned to work at all.
What is more startling is the fact that while the female literacy rate in the country has gone up yet the proportion of working women is going down constantly, especially for the married women. A major reason for this has been unfriendly environment which could enable them to balance work and family.
Fortunately, the HR policies are undoubtedly changing and are changing for good. More organisations are now accepting professionals with a break on their resume. And, if you plan it well and are sure of what you want to do during that career break then it can be easier for you to resume work.
Here are a few things that could make it more convenient for you to get back to work:
1. Utilize your break to upgrade yourself
You might be taking a break from your career, but it doesn’t mean that you must stagnate. A sabbatical is a fine time to re-skill so that when you restart your career you are relevant. Leading online learning platforms offer courses that can add to your existing skill set, while boosting your confidence while returning to work. Identify a skill that is in line with your field and enroll yourself into a course that can strengthen and polish those skills. Re-skilling and up-skilling effectively fill up the gap in your resume and bring forth the proactive, eager-to-learn aspect of your personality. The best part is you can do all these courses at your own pace and comfort. So, make that career break an opportunity to acquire that long pending skill-set.
2. Take up projects to prove potential
Once you have upskilled yourself by leveraging the world-class pedagogy available on online learning platforms, put your skills to test. Before applying for full time job roles, accept some freelance projects that will allow you to test the waters and also prove just how comfortable you are with your newly acquired skill set.
While looking for a freelance project, focus more on the work experience and capability enhancement aspects. Treat these projects as stepping stones towards realizing your full potential in the newly acquired skill-set. For instance, I have personally seen a lot of people on sabbaticals doing projects related to website development, content marketing, digital marketing, data analytics, etc.
3. Explain your career break
How you explain your sabbatical to employers can make the difference with recruiters. In your resume, briefly explain the reason why you took a break in your career, but do not be apologetic about it. When sitting for an interview, confidently elucidate the motives behind your sabbatical, and top it off with how you utilised this time to upgrade your skills.
Of course, along with the reasons for your break, you can add the skills and certifications that you acquired during your break to make your resume, and you, stand out. Confidence is the key.
4. Partake in networking opportunities
Before you start applying for jobs, attend some workshops, seminars or conferences related to your field. This will allow you to meet and catch up with your peers, allowing you to inform them that you are returning to the work scene. These conferences will also help you stay on top of industry trends, so you can return with all the essential information you missed out on during your break.
There are also certain groups that offer conferences and networking events just for people who are returning to work after a break. These conferences will offer both information and confidence, so you can get back to work without any hassles.
5. Prepare to resume work
Whether you are going back to the same office or looking for a new job. Prepare well! Try appearing for as many interviews as you can and reconnect with your peers at work. You can also attend some mock interviews. This will help you gain confidence.
Planning the break well and building up your confidence is the most important step towards finding your way back into the workforce. Once that’s taken care of, you will be back to your productive, professional self in no time. Here’s to a great restart to your career.