Q I’m a senior HR administrator and my partner has just had a baby. I would like to take a career break for three to six months. My employer isn’t keen on the idea, so I’m considering resigning and applying for another role when I feel ready. How will potential employers react to my time out of work and are there any tactics I can employ to ensure my career break isn’t permanent?
A First of all, take some more time to discuss your needs with your current employer. This is a crucial point in your career, and if you make a sudden decision to leave before exploring all the avenues you may miss out on promotion.
As a new father, you’re entitled to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave, so ensure your manager is at least prepared to give you that. Many companies offer their staff sabbaticals for a few months or even longer, so this could be another option. When you return, you may not have the same position but your organisation could offer you a similar role.
If no compromise seems possible, consider whether you really want to work for that particular organisation. If you decide to leave, be upfront with any future employers about your time away.
I would even advise you to include it on your CV, marking down the dates of your career break and flagging them up as ‘paternity leave’ or ‘family time’. Otherwise potential employers may draw invalid conclusions about how you’ve spent your time between jobs and think you haven’t been actively seeking work because you can’t be bothered. In contrast, many organisations look favourably on candidates who have taken sabbaticals to enhance their life experience.
While you are away from work, keep abreast of any changes in employment legislation, and regularly look at trade magazines and websites. If you’re a member of any networking groups, attend when you can to keep in touch with new developments.
It’s also worth speaking to any organisations you will be targeting for work to gauge what their reaction might be to your career break. Whatever happens, if you approach everyone honestly and openly, you should be able to enjoy your period of family time without damaging your career.
Mark Carriban, managing director, HR recruitment business
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Also in association with: Ortus, Hays Human Resources and Interim Performers