Learn how to make your sabbatical leave an asset to your resume
Sabbatical leaves from work are becoming more and more common across the US and beyond. Employees from the wide range of industries take a few months’ (or even more than a year’s) break from work to recharge, travel, or focus on out-of-work commitments. All in all, when workplace stress management strategies don’t work, you feel dissatisfied with the course of your career or simply want to explore what’s else out there, a sabbatical can become an invigorating and life-changing experience.
However, planning a sabbatical comes with a lot of questions. How to handle financial issues so that the time off work doesn’t hit your pocket? How to look for a new job after such an extended leave? And finally, how to write about sabbatical on a resume? A professional resume writer NYC will explain how to address the sabbatical issue on a resume effectively. But first, we’ll talk about how to fully prepare for a sabbatical.
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How to plan a sabbatical effectively?
Regardless of your sabbatical goals, these few months off work require thorough preparation and planning. Here are the main pointers to consider:
- Have a clear strategy for the entire sabbatical
Before you start planning the journey, set the clear purpose for your long-term leave. Do you want to travel across Africa and explore its culture? Are you eager to volunteer and give back to the community, either overseas or locally? Do you feel like taking a crash course on a new skill or pursuing an MBA? A sabbatical without a purpose is just a long vacation, and without a clear direction, you’re likely to feel bored and frustrated soon.
- Check with your employer’s policy on sabbaticals
Some companies allow extended breaks for their employees. If this is the case with your employer, it means that you can return back to work after a few months away and avoid the frustrating period of searching for a new job. It might also mean that some of the benefits (such as pension schemes) will be available. However, if the company brochure has no information on sabbaticals, prepare the pitch and have a talk with your boss on the subject. You will need to explain how a sabbatical will help you perform better, though.
- Make it a learning experience
Even if you feel exhausted professionally and can’t think of anything else rather than laying on the beach for weeks, think of the ways to make your sabbatical productive. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job – training, volunteering, or similar activities will work. Why is this important? Firstly, new experiences will help you recover from extended stress faster and enrich you with positive emotions. And secondly, you’ll have something to write on your resume when preparing for a job search after the sabbatical. By the way, check out the best words to use on a resume.
- Plan the sabbatical early
Ideally, you should plan your leave at least a year in advance. It will allow you to put your finances in order, complete the important commitments at work and make necessary preparations. For instance, if you intend to study or volunteer abroad, you might need to apply for the programs early and to arrange for visas and other travel documents. Moreover, you’ll need some time to think things through and plan the time off in detail.
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- Put your finances in order
Living for months without a steady income is challenging, especially if you plan to head abroad. Get the financial issue resolved early – pay the debt and create a fund that will cover your expenses throughout the sabbatical. Some professionals also choose to work during their sabbatical. If you travel abroad, you might want to find a job locally to support yourself financially and get to know the local culture. Freelancing and part-time jobs are also a popular option. If you’re considering taking freelance projects, make sure to weigh all the pros and cons of freelancing: http://resumeperk.com/blog/freelance-yes-or-no.
- Seek advice from your friends and peers
Whatever your plans for the sabbatical are, make sure to share them with friends, coworkers, and peers. They might give you plenty of advice pertaining to handling finances, preparing for a trip abroad and recommend how to avoid pitfalls you haven’t thought of. Chances are, you’ll meet someone who has taken a sabbatical before and can share their inspiring experiences. It’s also a good idea to browse the social media for groups related to sabbaticals or trips to your target destination.
- Make it beneficial for your career
If you feel like taking a sabbatical but don’t have a clear plan in mind yet, think of the ways to connect this time off work with your career. For instance, if you considered changing a career, use the sabbatical to volunteer in your target industry or take intensive training. If you want to make the step up, think of the ways to acquire the necessary skills, whether it’s through education, volunteering or part-time work. If you don’t have a clear direction, simply try out the new experiences such as working in an unknown industry, teaching, pursuing a creative hobby, etc.
- Plan your return back to work
If the company you work for doesn’t offer sabbatical leaves, you’ll have to dive into job-hunting as you get home. So, plan your return to work in advance. Monitor the news in your industry to keep your skills updated as you are away from work. Think about how you’ll be writing about the sabbatical on a resume. Reach out to former colleagues and your network to let them know you’re job-hunting. Consider working with a career consultant to find a job faster. Plan the return to work as you were planning the sabbatical, and the transition will go smoothly.
How to explain your sabbatical on a resume?
Employers view sabbatical differently. However, it’s true that most HR managers don’t like unexplained career breaks. The consultants of our resume agency recommend these ways to write about your sabbatical so that it looks presentable on your resume:
✓ Inspect the skills you’ve gained. Even if you simply traveled across Asia and volunteered here and there, you have probably gained plenty of skills. Let alone the fact that you’ve broadened your horizons and maybe learned a new language. Look for ways to connect those newly gained skills to your line of career and feel free to add them to the Skills section of a resume.
✓ List all productive experiences. Part-time jobs (even irrelevant ones), freelancing, volunteering, studies, online classes, training, community service all deserve being mentioned on a resume. This shows that you kept your skills current and used the sabbatical to enhance your qualifications which are always positively viewed by employers.
✓ Explain it in a cover letter. If your sabbatical was connected with a personal issue or the resume format doesn’t allow you to explain your time off work properly, do it in a cover letter. Write a few sentences but make sure to keep the focus on how this time off made you more energized, motivated and eager to get back to work.
✓ Get prepared for interview questions. If you’ve mentioned the sabbatical on a resume, be prepared that this issue will come up during an interview. Think about how you’ll be presenting your experience off work to a target employer and focus on the experience you’ve gained and the fact that you’ve kept up to date with the industry events.
Avoid simply writing that you were on a sabbatical and calling it a day. Again, it’s not the fact of the sabbatical that matters. If you manage to persuade the hiring person that you used this time to grow personally and in terms of skills, it will make you look like a standout applicant.
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