Why can a career gap be great? I'll say this post is more of a pep talk to myself. I've got reasons and I've got some helpful tips for navigating the gap when you find yourself in it...also advice I'll start taking myself because woosah-ing is needed...explains the featured image because I'd rather be there ha!
Understanding the Why: Taking a career gap is not a sign of weakness or failure. Repeat that to yourself out loud: Taking a career gap is not a sign of weakness or failure! Sometimes it's a conscious choice to prioritize well-being and personal development, other times it's because you moved to the other side of the world and then realized how difficult navigating an almost non-existent workforce can be after having a mental breakdown, and sometimes you are so burnt out that you "just can't deal". Simon Sinek has a great TedTalk about "why" (you've probably seen it) and the explanation applies professionally and personally. A career gap does not equal failure.
Planning Your Career Gap: If you can plan your career gap, you are steps ahead. Put some funds aside, gear yourself up for the break, and then breathe. Set clear goals for what you want to achieve during this time, whether it's acquiring new skills, traveling, or exploring a different industry. You can do it, I believe in you. Most of all, give yourself some grace and be ready for a lot of people to tell you, "what are you doing?!!" *Mom Talk: Consider your finances, create multiple timelines aka Plans A & B, and fail; seriously fail because, guess what, that's how you'll learn and grow during your break.
Embracing Personal Growth: This doesn't mean professional growth. Read it again and stop Googling certificates. A career gap hands you an opportunity for self-discover. Marie Kondo your life! Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, because these experiences can contribute positively to your overall well-being. This doesn't make you lazy. I asked some fellow Email Geeks for some ideas and this group of amazingly, fantastic women spit out every kind of hobby from building tiny model homes to painting, and not one work-related certification. They get it and it's why I asked them because I was thinking professionally and they knew this time is needed for personal growth.
Overcoming the Fear of Gaps in Your Resume: This is what freaks me out because my career gap wasn't planned or at least I had not come to terms with it until recently. I could probably write an essay on this one bullet. This part is the hardest (for me). I've always been busy, working, felt like I've contributed. My husband will say, "Woman! You are the glue to this family. You do so much you don't even see it." I want to say I don't see it because it doesn't feel like what a job is to me. I've gone as far as ChatGPTing, "explain a career gap"...yeah I know...low. People I've spoken to say, "It'll be fine! See how you can relate skills and experiences you gained while away, and how they contribute to your overall professional development, then it helps make you a stronger candidate." What this looks like to me in the form of a meme is:
Returning to a Work Home: Time to showcase the valuable experiences and skills acquired during your career gap in your resume and during interviews (wine aside 😉). Glow up on how this time has positively shaped your perspective and made you a more well-rounded and resilient professional. This is the part where you can shine a bright light on how perspective has grown. What you learned about yourself, how to communicate with others, and the fun you had!
Remember, a career gap is not a detour; it's a scenic route to personal and professional fulfillment. Now, I'm going to go take my own advice and thrive on this break. Maybe paint, write a children's book, or learn how to nap lol. Quite literally taking a sanity check.