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Is taking a career break harmful to one's prospects when searching for a new job?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

Hello, I have been thinking of taking a career break for some time now, and I would appreciate your input on the potential impact this decision may have on my future job search. Specifically, I am concerned about whether or not a career break would be perceived as harmful by prospective employers.

To provide more context, I have worked as a software engineer for about six years. About half a year ago, I started feeling burnt out and decided to switch to my current company. My situation has not been getting better. I am considering taking a 3-6 month break to recharge, and potentially explore new interests. My primary concerns are:

  1. Would potential employers view the gap in my work history negatively, and how much would it affect my chances of securing a new job in my field?
  2. Are there any ways to mitigate the potential negative impact of a career break on my resume and during job interviews?
  3. How do employers generally perceive career breaks in the current job market?
  4. Are there any specific steps or strategies I can follow during my career break to make it a more positive experience, both personally and professionally?

Any advice, stories, or insights you can share would be greatly appreciated.

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(3 comments)
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    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    a year ago

    Hello! Sorry to hear you are feeling burnt out :(

    I'm not fully understanding the context of this question.

    Are you quitting and taking a break? Or are you asking your current employer for a break?

    If you are quitting and taking a break, that's no different than having an unemployment gap. You can choose to disclose it during interviews but 3-6 months gap between employment isn't a big deal because it usually takes that long to secure another job anyway. They may ask why you quit though.

    If you're asking your current employer for a break of 3-6 months and then returning to work, this is not something you need to disclose in your resume.

    Hope that answers your question. Happy to discuss more.

  • 4
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    Senior Software Engineer at IBM
    a year ago

    The thing I'm particularly focused on is you've changed companies and that the burnout has followed you. What I would focus on and have seen in my own teammates is that they try to do too much. As part of our responsibilities to the business, we have to understand the topmost priorities and focus solely on those. If there's still more than 50-60 hrs a week, then you probably also need to automate more processes within the job to make the commitments to the business more easily managed. In my own job, we're having to take on entire initiatives to get things up to par and I want to ensure you're being properly taken care of.

  • 2
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    Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google
    10 months ago

    First, to answer your question around whether there are negative impacts of taking a career break - I believe yes, there is to some extend. It will at minimum raise a question during interviews that you would have to address.

    However, 3-6 months career breaks are very common, especially in the current economy (people getting laid off takes about that long to find new jobs), and so it will not be a red flag. The amount of companies that reject you purely based on you having a career gap will be very small. Long term, assuming you find renewed energy and commitment to toward whatever career/interest you decide to pursue, no employer would really care for the simple reason that how you look on paper / resume is much, much less important than your ability to perform on your job.

    If you are mentally and emotionally burnt out, you won't be able to perform properly - so I would consider taking a break as a personal investment into yourself. Being able to take a step back and taking care of yourself shows a lot self-awareness, and when you manage to emerge out of it renewed and passionate about what you want to do, you will be much more prepared to tell prospective employers why you did what you did.

    Are there any specific steps or strategies I can follow during my career break to make it a more positive experience, both personally and professionally?

    Since everyone's needs are different, evaluate these tips for yourself:

    1. Go into with the goal of increasing your level of self-awareness - it would be good to come up with your own answers to these questions:
      1. Why did I feel so burnt out?
      2. What behaviors/habits/self-narration can I change to prevent similar situations in the future?
      3. What things help me feel energized and committed? How do I invite more of these things into my own life?
    2. Seek out help proactively. There's plenty of professional out there - coaches, therapists, or mentors who are able to help you on your journey. You are still going to have find the answers yourself, but you don't have to do it alone.

    Best of luck! Feel free to PM me on slack if you need anything else.