I felt compelled to write this post after chatting with someone on Twitter who was really struggling to get back into work after returning from a career break. He told me that perspective employers were considering it to be a negative that he had a “gap” on his CV and one recruitment agent had even told him that he was “unemployable”.
I’m lucky that I’ve now managed to find a good job, but it took a long time and the constant rejection sometimes made me question whether I’d done the right thing in taking so much time off to travel.
But it really does annoy me how some employers dismiss career breaks so readily, when they teach you so many valuable life-long skills. In fact, it made me so cross that I put it into words!
Dear Future Employer,
I’m writing to ask you not to judge me for taking a career break. Please don’t think I wasted that year on the road; that I sat on a beach and worked on my tan and have returned home 12 months later expecting to walk into a job.
Yes, it may be true that I didn’t attend any fancy courses during my time away. I didn’t take any compulsory health and safety requirements, or sit in a conference room learning about the latest data protection issues. But please don’t think I didn’t learn any new skills as I navigated myself around the world.
I see you’re looking for someone with good organisational skills. In the last year I’ve managed to travel through nine countries on three continents. Just thinking about the amount of paperwork that required still makes my head hurt!
You need someone to negotiate your next big deal? No worries. I have argued with the most terrifying taxi drivers in Thailand and bargained with the hard-nosed ladies in markets across China. I can guarantee I’ll get you the best deal possible.
Need someone with patience? I have successfully managed to gain visas for seven different countries where I don’t speak the language. I have sat for hours, and in some cases days, waiting to talk to officials and being passed from pillar to post. I now have the patience of a saint.
Looking for someone with drive and determination? I took a huge risk to follow a dream. I had an amazing break and achieved life-long ambitions. Now I’m back and ready to put that same effort and determination into my next job.
But most of all I have learnt that nothing is as scary as it seems. I have climbed mountains I thought were too big to climb, I’ve jumped from a plane, even though I’m terrified of heights, I have sat through a 36 hour bus journey and I’ve even eaten bugs! I can do anything you ask me to do.
Travelling is the best thing I have ever done in my life. Through it I gained confidence, I became a kinder person and I learnt to trust my instincts.
So I’m sorry my humble “career break” doesn’t look much on my CV. But please don’t think it was wasted. Please don’t tell me I am “unemployable”. I’ve learnt more in the last year than I learnt in ten years sitting at my desk.
A very employable traveller