Can your career survive a year off?

VV 1 Sept 2a

Whether you’re taking a gap year to go travelling or are on maternity leave, a year away from the working world can have an impact on your career. Here’s how to take a year off and still have an on-track career plan when you return.

Taking a year away from work can be a great way of not only refreshing yourself but also refocusing your career path.Here’s how to take a year off and come back even stronger.

Keep working
Just because you’re taking a year off doesn’t mean you have to stop working completely. You could have an arrangement with your current employer to do a certain number of hours remotely or, if you’re leaving your current role, you could try freelancing.

If you want to keep a professional front while being away from an office, try using a virtual office. This can provide you with an answering service and official business address, so you can pick up your messages wherever you are in the world.

Learn something new
A year away is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill – whether you decide to learn the language of the country you’re visiting, do some voluntary work or sign up to training courses.

Making use of your year off in this way also shows potential future employers that you haven’t just been wasting your time and you’ve kept your hand in at working life.

Plan before you go
If you want to return to the same position, or even if you’re just relying on them for a reference, you need to work hard up until the day you leave. Also be willing to help out by training replacements, briefing everyone fully on your workload and making the transition as easy as possible.

You can also make sure any contacts in your network know of your plans. If you just disappear for a year, people will soon forget about you. If you let them know what you’re doing and when you’re coming back, they’ll be more likely to remember.

Plan for your return
At least 2 months before your return to work date you should start planning. If you’re going back to the same job, it’s time to get in touch and see what’s new in the office – find out if there’s any new contracts, major changes in personal etc. You might also want to start checking work emails again if you can.

VV 1 Sept a

For those looking for a new job, now’s the time to start putting feelers out. Don’t just check the jobs listings, email former contacts to see if they know of anything going. You’ll actually be in a good position if you’re applying for a new job. While other candidates will have to work their notice period, you could start as soon as you return.

Be flexible
When it comes to either returning or going for interviews, try and be flexible. If your current employer is under pressure and needs you to return a few days early, try and accommodate them.

Same goes for interviews. Even if you have to Skype from a remote island, showing you’re willing to change your plans for a prospective employer is a good step towards getting your career back on track.

Remember why you’re doing it
Most of all, remember why you’re taking the year off. It’s a big commitment, both personally and financially, so needs to be worth it. You can learn a lot in a year, so make sure you apply these new skills to your job when you return.


Posted by The Secret Businessman