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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break

Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break

In our dynamic, career-driven society, time often moves so fast that we find ourselves constantly trying to keep up with it. At first, there’s just one deadline, maybe two. Soon, commitments with friends and family start to merge. You run. Nights turn to days as you stay up late, trying to squeeze in more minutes into what’s already gone.

Still you keep going. Until you quickly realize that although your feet are moving, you are not. It’s as if everything and everyone else exists in a place where you cannot follow. And you’re stuck watching them like a reel of film. Just when time feels like it moved again, you fall. Hard, cold, exhausted.

Do you usually wish that you could get up and leave everything behind? Well, not literally, of course. But a break would definitely be nice. Ever heard of the term sabbatical? How about a career break? A lot of people are familiar with these words and even use them interchangeably – but they’re different from each other. Here’s how they can help you catch the break you deserve (and maybe even help you on the road to a better career).

Sabbatical vs. Career Break: Which One Is Better?

“We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you.” – Eric Roth

According to an article by career break coach, Sue Hadden, a sabbatical is a more formal scheme offered by companies to qualified workers.[1] Examples are Nike and Adobe, big corporations that give employees the option of a sabbatical after they have served a certain number of years. It’s like a benefit, similar to getting pension contributions.

This is a good option for those who want to work in the same company or position after a long break.

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Sabbaticals are typically used for:

  • Relaxation from work burn-out
  • Learning/honing new skills
  • Traveling the world
  • Volunteering; or
  • General reflecting

If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately and you’re fairly certain that you just need a long break, ask your HR department about sabbaticals. Depending on your company’s policies, it might be partially unpaid or not at all. Check if you qualify for this perk and you might just fulfill that dream getaway sooner than you think.

Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll have a job to come back to.

A career break on the other hand, is typically what you resort to if your company does NOT have a sabbatical policy. This will involve handing over your resignation. The upside is that you’re not tied to the organization anymore, which means you can take your time and hop on the career train whenever you’re ready!

Career breaks are perfect if you want to:

  • Switch to a new career
  • Start a business
  • Go into freelancing
  • Travel the world more extensively
  • Get experience for a job you’re not qualified for yet

For some folks, going on sabbatical was the best decisions they ever made. For others, a career break was the more practical approach. Deciding which one suits your needs best would depend on YOU.

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Think about why you need a break in the first place. Decide for how long you want to be away from work. Then, weigh the pros and cons of your choice.

6 Things To Keep In Mind During Your Break

“I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.” – Eric Roth

Let’s assume that you’ve made up your mind on which break you want to take. You’re all set: finances are in order, friends and family members have your back, and you’re mentally geared to make this the best experience of your life (so far). Here are six things you need to consider before heading out the door:

1. Always keep your resume updated.

During your sabbatical or career break, new opportunities might come knocking. You want to be prepared for anything. So make sure you take a few minutes to update your resume. List new skills you have gained along the way. Write what you learned on a new section called “Life Experiences”. Pick your words wisely. This time you have all the hours you need.

2. Keep yourself healthy.

If you took a sabbatical or career break due to work burnout, don’t just sit on the couch binge-watching on Netflix! That diet you’ve wanted to try is waiting for you. Stop procrastinating and join your buddy for a jog. Meditate. Relieve the stress you’ve accumulated up to this point.

3. Avoid burning bridges.

Even if you resigned for a career break, do NOT burn bridges. Who knows – you might need those people again in the future. Today, there are various ways to stay connected. There’s social media, messaging apps, and the traditional text or call.

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4. Create good web presence.

As you hop from one adventure to another, make sure you’re also minding what you post online. Whether it’s a sabbatical or career break, you don’t want employers getting the wrong idea. That time you went hiking in Thailand? Cool. How about that binge-drinking session with old college buddies? Not so cool.

Keeping your personal brand in check while out and about ensures that you’ll have nothing to clean up after all the adrenaline has ebbed.[2]

5. Reflect a lot.

If you were used to 80-hour workweeks, you might find it hard to relax and do nothing for the first days of your break. Don’t forget to relish these quiet moments with yourself. Pick up a good book and sit by the window. Take long walks alone. Revel in the fact that for once, you’re not racing to catch up with time.

Imagine your future. Think about what makes you happy. Immerse in the moment.

6. Use time wisely.

It can be tempting to do nothing for days. But before you know it, days have turned into weeks, weeks into months. What do you have to show for your sabbatical or career break? What adventures did you take? What did you learn?

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career-time

    It’s amazing to finally have all the time in the world: but once you have it, what do you do with it? Use it wisely. Even if you’re in a two-year sabbatical, you’d be surprised at how fast time flies.

    If you took a career break, you might be wondering how it would impact your career. While a lot of employers and hiring managers don’t care for gaps in employment history, you should still be prepared for people who won’t be as understanding.[3]

    This is why you should make each second count. Don’t waste your precious time just lounging around (you can always do catch-up marathons on the weekends). The important thing to remember after your sabbatical or career break is that the right job will understand why you wanted the time off.

    For now, don’t sweat about it too much. This is your gift to yourself, remember?

    Sabbatical or Career Break? You Choose

    “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth

    Whether you’re taking a break to take care of your family or yourself, you shouldn’t see it as a luxury. We all need time for ourselves. It’s how we assess how far we’ve come, and where to go next. So avoid feeling guilty!

    Don’t wait until the last moments to truly LIVE.

    Featured photo credit: Adrianna Calvo/Pexels.com via pexels.com

    Reference

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    Cris Antonio

    Content Strategist, Storyteller

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    Last Updated on July 22, 2019

    10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

    10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

    A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

    Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

    Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

    This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

    Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

    1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

    Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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    2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

    Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

    3. Address the reader directly if you can

    It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

    For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

    4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

    A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

    In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

    Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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    5. Tell the company what you can do for them

    As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

    Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

    6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

    A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

    Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

    If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

    7. Numbers are important — show proof

    It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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    8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

    A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

    I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

    9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

    There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

    You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

    10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

    The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

    Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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    What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

    Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

    Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

    Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

    Bonus Advice

    When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

    The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

    More About Nailing Your Dream Job

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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