MAKE THE MOST OF A BREAK

Go­ing on a break does not have to kill a ca­reer. Lau­ren Ah­wan re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Front Page -

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.”

Pic­ture: AAP/STEVE POHLNER

TIME OUT: Devyn Smith, a prop­erty man­ager at Geon Prop­erty.

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