While much has been made of millennials’ tendency to job hop, there’s another career trajectory they’re embracing: The Break. In fact, one survey found that an astonishing three-quarters of American millennials see themselves taking a career break at some point to take care of kids, older relatives — or just to refresh and recharge.
That has implications for their employers, of course: I’ve discussed the concept of “boomerang employees” before, and it’s important to keep in mind that “breakers” often aren’t gone permanently.
If you are a millennial — or member of any generation — contemplating a career break, you’re certainly in good company. Still, there are steps you’ll likely want to take to ensure your break doesn’t last longer than you’d planned or derail your desired career trajectory. I found some great tips on what to do both before and during a career break to stay sharp (and marketable).
Invest in Relationships with “Junior” Colleagues
“The younger people in your office who you informally mentor, who report to you or who you just know from working together can be your most helpful contacts when returning to work. While you’re on career break, these junior people will continue to move up the ladder and someday may be in a position to open a door for you. And they’ll remember you as someone knowledgeable, important and to whom they looked up! We are seeing more cases of ‘relaunchers’ coming back to work for the very people who used to work for them.” — Read more at Forbes.
Do Volunteer Work That Can Pull Double Duty
“Hone in on a volunteer opportunity that can further your career: focus on positions requiring skills that you already have. If you have an accounting background, then you could volunteer for a treasurer position. If you want to use the volunteer opportunity to gain new skills, establish a goal of what you want to accomplish in the volunteer position. So if you want to learn about email marketing, you could volunteer as a new membership manager for an organization and send emails to recruit and maintain new members.” — Read more at Working Mother.
Broaden Your Horizons
“If you’re thinking of taking a mid-career break that boosts your outlook and skills, consider going abroad, where you could try undertaking informal paid work or volunteering, either of which could give you a fresh perspective on things upon your return, according to [Paul] Payne, [managing director of UK-based rail and construction recruitment firm OneWay]. The experience could also improve your basic competencies. ‘Who knows what you could learn from working alongside professionals who’ve been developed and trained in a different way to you,’ he said.” — Read more at BBC.
Planning for Your Career Break Financially
“If a career break is in your future, start saving as aggressively as you can as early as you can. And don’t just save the money – invest it. That way, it will compound while you’re taking your career break and continue compounding once you’re back in the workforce and adding to your savings again. … This advanced planning is particularly important for women because women are more likely to take career breaks, earn less money while working and live longer (and therefore need more in retirement savings).” — Read more at SmartAsset.
Show Your Employer What’s in It for Them
“Show that you really do want to come back to the company. The best way to show this is by making the career break relevant to your career, or showing how the break will benefit the team or company. … [H]aving a long-term career plan and demonstrating how the break fits in and complements this plan is the best way to show your commitment. … When requesting the career break, focus on the skills aspect of what you’ll bring back, but the wellbeing and employee happiness is also something to bear in mind.” — Read more at The Well-Travelled Postcard.
Have you considered a career break — or successfully returned from one? What are some strategies that can help smooth re-entry? Please share in the comments below.
Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.