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I want to take a short career break. How to convey this to manager?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Series C Startup2 years ago

I have been working in this company for 1 year 3 months now, and I'm feeling burnt out. I'm looking to take a break for around a month and a half, which I know is on the lengthier side. Does anyone here have experience requesting this long a leave?



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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    Really sorry to hear about this - I just want to start by saying that we'll always be here to support you throughout this. Feel free to reach out to Rahul and I on Slack whenever!

    That being said, here are my thoughts:

    • It looks like you'll need to request unpaid leave unless you have accrued a large amount of PTO.
    • When it comes to the framing the conversation, I think you should just be honest about the break and why you need it. I talk more about this in my video about being vulnerable with your manager here.
    • Make it clear that incentives align. By taking a break, you will have time to clear your mind and come back better than ever - Every manager should want their reports to be happy and productive in the longer term. You can say something like, "I've been feeling burnt out recently, and I really need a longer break to recover my mental health. It's really hard to perform in my current state, so I need this time to reset and reach my full productivity again."
    • From here, 1 of 2 scenarios will happen:
      • Your manager is supportive and works with you to figure out this leave period.
      • Your manager is not empathetic and effectively ignores the request. You now know you should definitely switch teams, and there's no way this manager <-> report relationship is going to work.

    I also recommend these related resources:

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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    Few things to keep in mind:

    • An unpaid leave is not actually that uncommon. This became clear to me when I became a manager -- many people have problems that require them to take time off, you just don't hear about them a lot.
    • If you enjoy working on the team, make that clear to your manager before you go on leave. This will increase the chance that you still have scope + interesting projects when you come back.
    • Leave your projects in a good spot if at all possible, so it's easy for you to pick up when you come back, and your teammates will have good memories of you :)
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