Is taking a career break ever a good idea?

Am I brave enough to leave a good, stable job? How will it affect my career in the long term? Will future employers think I’m a flight risk?

These are all questions I agonised over before taking the plunge and embarking on a nine month career break earlier this year.

It was eight years into my career and things were going well. I had simply never taken any time out – having gone straight from school to Sixth Form to University to work – and I knew that if I didn’t do it soon, my dreams of travelling the world would never amount to more than that.

One thing that made the decision a huge amount easier was the guarantee of my husband’s pay and position to return to. A sabbatical is a wonderful thing if you can get one. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for me but if it had been a case of leaving both jobs entirely and having no guaranteed way to pay our mortgage when we returned, I’m not sure we would have leaped quite so confidently.

But how have things been for me since we got back from our big adventure? Now that I am ready for a new professional challenge and stability, how have recruiters and potential employers reacted to the career break that will now forever feature on my CV?

I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised. No-one has vocalised any concerns about it when we have been talking through my experience. Admittedly most people are very curious about what made me want to do it but the most common response is unbridled interest. “Where did you go? What was the best place you visited?” It’s an excellent conversation starter and I’m sure it makes you more memorable.

So my advice would be that if it’s something you’re considering but are too afraid of it harming your career to take the leap, think long and hard before dismissing your dreams. For me it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I knew I didn’t want to live a ‘what if…’ life but I couldn’t have imagined how much strength, resourcefulness and pure joy the experience would bring me.

You never know, it might even open some very interesting new doors that you’d never noticed before.


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