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Career Breaks & The Impact On Your CV

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65% of workers have considered a career break, but the majority are worried about the impact on their CV

With stress and burnout being reported regularly by Ireland’s workers*, it’s unsurprising that the majority (65%) have considered taking a career break, according to our recent research.

However, for most there’s a catch with three quarters believing that a work sabbatical could reflect negatively on their CV. This fear may inadvertently account for the fewer than one quarter that have actually taken a career break, but our recruitment experts advise those that would like to take time out from work to not be overly concerned about a gap on their CV.

In addition to polling employees, we also sought the views of employers and only 13% said that they viewed career breaks negatively. This shift in employer perception breaks from the often-held belief that career gaps are detrimental to a candidate's prospects when, in fact, the opposite can be true. We have seen first-hand this shift in mindset towards CV gaps over the years.

Career breaks can be very beneficial to an individual, particularly if they use the time to upskill, travel or try something new. There can be a lot to gain by taking time out of the workforce and employers are seeing how employees can return with new knowledge and learnings and a fresh perspective following a hiatus.

Questions to answer

Candidates who do have a gap on their CV should be prepared for questions from hiring managers. It’s not uncommon to see gaps on CVs. However, if for an extended period, one should be prepared to face, not unreasonably, more probing questions during the hiring process. The key is to be open, honest, and try to keep it positive. Use the opportunity to articulate how a career break has been a valuable and enriching experience and be clear as to how the sabbatical contributed to personal growth, advancing the person’s suitability for a role.

Like many things, there are pros and cons to taking time away from the workplace. However, if you are considering a career break in the future you should not be worried about the impact it may have on your CV when you do return to the workplace.

The online poll was conducted by Matrix Recruitment among 404 respondents in August 2023.

*HR Locker 2021. Workhuman 2022.