MAKE THE MOST OF A BREAK
Going on a break does not have to kill a career. Lauren Ahwan reports
TAKING a sabbatical can have surprising career benefits, as employers recognise the skills gained during time away from work can lead to greater contributions to the workplace.
Career Development Association of Australia vice president Carolyn Alchin says sabbaticals can increase interpersonal skills, which are highly desired by employers.
Depending on what the sabbatical involves, it can also provide scope to gain technical skills, such as learning a new language during travel abroad.
To maximise the career benefits of a sabbatical, Alchin says breaks from work need to be well-planned and have defined goals for personal and professional development.
“If (sabbaticals) don’t have a purpose, if you’re just going to binge on Netflix for six months, then that’s not going to be helpful to anyone’s career,” she says.
“If you can show you worked in 12 different countries, for five pounds or Euros an hour, then that still adds value because you can talk about the diversity of people you have worked with, the critical thinking skills you gained (and) the communication skills. All those things that travel and risk can add to you as a person, can add to you as a worker as well.”
Acquire Group founder and managing director Gavin Houchell believes sabbaticals have become so commonplace that “a gap in your resume doesn’t even come up during (job) interviews anymore”.
“For the people I help, (taking a sabbatical) doesn’t derail their career prospects,” Houchell says. “If you take time off work to go to Vanuatu, for example, you are opening your eyes to a different culture (and) you are learning how to communicate with a different group of people.
“Or, say you are an executive that’s taking time out of the rat race, that can teach you patience, it can improve your listening sills – instead of jumping straight in (to business decisions), it can help you become more considered.”
Devyn Smith, 26, was just two years into his real estate career when he took 12 months off to play rugby for a Scottish Borders team.
Smith admits he had reservations about what the break would do for his career but, on returning home, says the personal growth and life experi- ence was of “inexpressible value”. “A career is rarely a straight line, with switched majors, changed careers, reconsidered goals or ended relationships becoming the norm for millennials,” Smith says.
“When I was overseas, I picked up one or two days a week with a company that managed share portfolios. Getting that experience and seeing how things work on the other side of the world gave me a different perspective on how we do things here.”
TIME OUT: Devyn Smith, a property manager at Geon Property.