It may seem counterintuitive - but one of the best things you can do for your career might just be to take a break.
Many companies now offer unpaid sabbatical leave as part of their employee benefits package, with a rare few even offering paid leave to longer serving employees. Sabbaticals, or career breaks, have made the move out of purely academic circles and are now firmly part of the mainstream at top employers who seek out innovative ways to improve employee engagement and keep their talent loyal.
Offering a break allows employees to return to the office refreshed, and helps prevent burn out - particularly in stressful or busy jobs.
Making the most
Of course, for many people, the idea of a sabbatical conjures up images of lazing on a beach, sipping a drink - but if you think beyond that, your sabbatical could be not only relaxing, but also career enhancing. For those who would love to take a break but worry about a negative impact on their career trajectory, there are opportunities to learn new skills, contribute to a cause that matters to you, as well as exploring new places and meeting new people.
Many organisations exist to help match individuals with charitable causes who could benefit from their skills and experience. If you’re passionate about the environment and being outdoors, WWOOF could help match you with an organic farm which needs help, allowing you to get to know a new area and contribute to a working farm.
The Youth Hostel Association in the UK might be a great option if you’re interested in the hospitality industry, and volunteers contribute to general duties and with specialist skills depending on the needs of the individual hostel.
Depending on the length of the sabbatical, Voluntary Service Overseas programs may also be of interest. VSO offers longer term opportunities in countries in the developing world, working for example in public services, where people with a variety of professional skills can really add value, and share their experiences and ideas with local employees.
If volunteering doesn’t appeal to you, or would tax your savings too much, how about a ’jobbatical’? This innovative new approach from an Estonian start-up, functions as a market place matching those looking for short term professional gigs, with businesses looking for a shot of creative talent.
There are a variety of opportunities, from working at a Baltic start-up, to being a spokesperson for rhinos in South Africa- but all the options would provide a memorable experience, a chance to explore, and a way to enhance your CV for the long term. Imagine how your resume would stand out from the pack with such an inspiring and unusual story to tell!
As more businesses embrace the opportunity to allow their top talent to take a break while working on their personal development, sabbaticals will surely become more common. And with such an amazing chance to recharge, combine a break with learning new skills, and potentially get paid and enhance your long term career prospects at the same time, what’s not to love?
Image source: www.rowdykittens.com