Career interruptions are common. So why do we still hide them on CVs?

Bobbie Bain had been working at American Airlines for less than a year when she received devastating news.

His son is dead.

She hadn’t worked long enough to qualify for unpaid family leave, she said. So she decided to stop.

“I worked my two weeks’ notice that I barely remember,” she said. And that’s it.”

Bain said it took her about six months to recover, during which time she cared for a sick family member.

“Around the time I came to my senses, the pandemic hit and there was just no work anywhere,” she said. She said she started applying for jobs when airlines started hiring again. By then, about two years had passed, she added.

“I started applying for jobs…but almost everyone said, ‘Well, what did you do?’” she said. “I don’t even know how to answer it.”

Are career interruptions common?

Surveys show that most people experience at least one event in their life that requires time off work.

According to a LinkedIn survey of 23,000 workers in 2022, nearly two-thirds (62%) of employees have taken a career break at some point – and 35% would be interested in taking such a break in the future.

The same year, LinkedIn rolled out its “Career Break” feature, allowing members to indicate breaks in their profile’s work history for 13 reasons, ranging from full-time parenthood to travel and bereavement. through moving and career transition.

An example of LinkedIn’s “Career Break” feature, which bridges gaps between jobs.


Are these conversations happening?

To date, just over 1 million LinkedIn members have added the “career break” feature to their profiles, according to the company.

Nick Gausling began using it shortly after his deployment. After dealing with health problems caused by chronic Lyme disease, compounded by a mold outbreak in his home that forced him to move, he quit his job, he said.

Today, her six-month “health and wellness” career break is noted on her LinkedIn profile.

“Rather than just leaving a gap… it’s a lot cleaner,” he said. “It’s much more in line with the realities of the modern working world. A lot of people experience these kinds of moments where they need to take a step back.”

According to a survey of 6,000 workers aged 25 and above in six Southeast Asian countries, the main reasons for taking a career break were health and well-being concerns (17%) and professional transitions (17%). Milieu Insight firm.

People also took career breaks to travel (13%), raise their children (12%) and care for others (10%), the data showed.

Less than a third (29%) said they had not experienced events that warranted a break, the survey found.

Despite their ubiquity, employment gaps are often viewed negatively, said Jenn Lim, CEO of organizational consultancy Delivering Happiness.

“The assumption is that you’ve been laid off, you’re having trouble getting hired, or you’re a poor performer,” she said.

But that’s not the reality for most workers today.

“People are more willing to take career breaks and pursue non-linear career paths,” said Pooja Chhabria, LinkedIn editorial manager for Asia Pacific. “This is becoming almost the norm.”

To disclose or not to disclose?

Thomas Baiter was laid off from Microsoft in late 2022, just as his father’s dementia was worsening.

“He lives alone and my wife and I have taken responsibility for managing his care,” he said. “I can’t imagine the stress we would have been under if I had tried to do what we did for him while working 40+ hours a week.”

When he decided to look for a job a few months later, he wondered whether he should disclose his time off.

Thomas Baiter, who competed in cycling races during his career break, said: “I hope companies see the value in hiring someone who has had the chance to recharge and reset. »

Thomas Baiter

In the CNBC/Milieu survey, only half of those surveyed who had interrupted their career said they had disclosed it on their CV or on job portals. A common tactic is to fudge the dates of past jobs, blurring the start and end dates to minimize the break. But Baiter decided that honesty was the best policy.

“Ultimately, I figured any company that didn’t have empathy for my situation wouldn’t be one I would want to work for,” he told CNBC. “I hoped that anyone looking at my profile would see that I am more than just a collection of my professional accomplishments and job titles.”

He said most interviewers were sympathetic to his situation, but added that companies might have been hesitant if his break had been longer.

“Maybe companies are worried that someone who has taken more than two months off won’t have the drive they’re looking for,” he said.

As for Gausling’s “health and wellness” break, he said it was never even brought up in his interviews.

“I’ve spoken to companies ranging from a small company where I was looking to become their CFO, all the way up to another very large, multi-billion dollar company,” he said. “No one talked about it.”

Longer breaks

Tavy Cussinel took a seven-year hiatus from her career in public relations when she had three children.

“You can’t breastfeed the baby and take a call with the global CEO. I tried it and I was like, no, no, I’m stopping. I’m going out and spending this beautiful amount of time with my newborn ” she said. “And then I did it again and again.”

Around the time she decided to start working again, her family moved from the UK to Singapore, which made finding work “doubly difficult”, she said.

She discovered that PowerPoint had changed (“the keyboard hacks I knew had changed”) and that social media was now an essential tool in public relations. “I was like, I really need to hone my… technical skills.”

Tavy Cussinel (second from left) explains how her career break helped her: “Not everyone knows exactly how much parenting women do in a day. Our time management skills are immune.”

Tavy Cussinel

Vicki Salemi, career specialist at Monster, said employers are now more flexible than in the past when it comes to career gaps.

“A lot of people are lacking,” she said, “especially since people made a lot of career changes during the Great Resignation.”

She also chose to speak openly about her time off. According to LinkedIn, half (51%) of employers say they are more likely to call back a candidate if they know the reason for their career break.

“I gave my heart and soul to raising these babies,” Cussinel said.

Stigma around breaks

Although career breaks are increasingly popular, LinkedIn data shows that a stigma still exists among some hiring managers. Company surveys show that one in five hiring managers reject these candidates.

“Viewing gaps in resumes as a lack of seriousness…is an outdated mindset,” said Nicole Price, a leadership coach and workplace expert. “This ignores the complexities of modern life and the multifaceted nature of skills development.”

Additionally, as mental health and work-life balance are increasingly prioritized, it’s critical to understand that taking a break does not indicate a lack of commitment or ambition, she said. added.

“On the contrary, it demonstrates a high level of self-awareness and a proactive approach to personal development,” Price said.

Respondents in the CNBC/Milieu survey were in agreement, with 52% agreeing that health and wellness is an acceptable reason to take a career break – the highest of the 13 factors in the survey. ‘investigation.


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