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How to Ask your Employer for a Career Break

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Employer Work Career Break Job Employee

The first step in taking a career break is getting permission from your boss. Many companies stipulate that their employees work a minimum period of time before qualifying, so check that out first. If you do qualify, take a deep breath and dive in. To make it easier, here's a bit of advice to get you going. After all, what have you go to lose?

Get The Boss on Your Side

The first step is to convince your bosses that your career break is in their best interest. If you have doubts they'll come round to your point of view, it might be a good idea to structure a break that will benefit both you and the company. In fact, doing something with concrete benefits for the company might be a stipulation of your gaining permission.

Assessing your own strengths and weaknesses can be crucial when thinking up a career break plan. Your boss might not like the idea of you taking time off to jet around the world; it's better if you can convince him or her that travel will help you better understand the firm or will help you increase the company's profit margin when you get back.

Top Tips For Asking For a Career Break

  • Check out the company's policy first. Talk to the personnel department to see if a precedent has already been set. If not, don't worry – you can be a trailblazer and be the first one in the firm to make the move.
  • Think about your position in the company, and make sure they can afford to have you leave for a specific period of time. If you think they can't, make provisions in your mind to cover you in your absence before talking to the boss. You might consider checking in on occasion while you're away as well, to see how things are faring without you and to keep yourself clued up on work developments.
  • Plan well in advance. If you want a break, it makes no sense to ask your boss for leave four days before you plan to go. You'll leave your job in the lurch – and yourself as well.
  • Timing is everything. If your company is doing well, they may well afford to have you jet off somewhere for six months. If they're teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, this might not be the best time to ask for leave. Patience comes to those who wait...
  • Get it in writing. A formal agreement between yourself and your employer is always best, and will help you avoid any potentially sticky situations when you return. Make sure you clarify how long you will be away, what you will accomplish while you're gone, and what position you will be coming back to upon your return.

Going on a career break can be an exhilarating – and exhausting – experience. One of the nicest things about it, however, is knowing that your job will be waiting for you. While your leave will probably be unpaid, a long break from the office to recharge your batteries, travel, work abroad or discover previously hidden talents about yourself is well worth it.

Asking your employer for a career break can be at best an awkward, and at worst a frightening experience. But if you know your rights, you should know that you should have no compunction about asking.

Approach your boss armed in the knowledge that people who go on career breaks come back more motivated to work, with new, better skills and a lighter outlook on life. It means that you will be refreshed, rejuvenated and less likely to quit your job in the near future – which is a win-win situation for both of you!

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