Career Breaks - Would You Take Time Out of Work?

Posted by Sue Anderson, 1st Dec 2015

Career breaks aren't for everybody, but sometimes it's the best decision for your working life. Perhaps you're in a job that just doesn't feel like your real calling, or maybe you're just lacking motivation and feeling burnt out; whatever the reason, a career break can help you to take some time out and start afresh afterwards.

We polled 2,199 people aged between 25 and 40, to find out more about career breaks and how people spend them. Everyone we spoke to was from the UK and were either in full time employment at the time we spoke to them, or had been at some point in the past.

41% of 25-40 Year Olds Have Taken a Career Break

We asked all respondents if they had ever taken a career break at any point; meaning intentionally and not as a result of becoming a parent or because they couldn't find work. In answer to this, 41% of people told us that they had indeed taken a career break.

We then asked why they had taken the career break, in order to find out some of the most common reasons behind such a decision. According to our results, the top reason for career breaks is 'to make time for travelling/to see more of the world' (62%), followed by 'to re-think what industry I want to work in' (21%) and 'because I was burnt out/exhausted' (10%).

Adult gap years and similar trips are becoming more and more commonplace, especially amongst those who didn't have the opportunity to go and see some of the world between their studies.

Half of Those Taking Career Breaks Quit Their Jobs To Do So

We asked anyone who had taken a career break to travel if they had to quit their job in order to do so. 54% said they had quit their job beforehand and just 6% said that their employer had been willing to let them have an extended period of leave and return to their job afterwards. However, it isn't clear how many people quit before asking it returning to work was an option.

The remaining 40% told us that they'd either been fired or made redundant; freeing them up to take the career break to travel.

Average Career Break To Travel Lasts 3 Months

The average length of a career break amongst those who take one to travel was revealed to be '3' months. The most popular places visited by those travelling during a career break were revealed to be Thailand (37%), the USA (31%) and Australia (28%).

However, 7% of the people who took a career break to go travelling didn't end up going anywhere when it came to it. What a waste! Furthermore, 44% of those who had taken a career break to go travelling regretted their decision to do so. We don't think anyone should regret travelling!

Once you settle in to a job, it can be hard to find the time to see the world. People have a week or two off here and there to go on a nice holiday abroad, but that's too short a time-frame to really get stuck in to some globe-trotting and a lot of employers have a limit on the amount of annual leave they enable staff to use all in one go.

Taking a career break is nothing to be ashamed of. If you're getting itchy feet and you want to go travelling, chances are you aren't in the right job. After all, something is making you want to get up and go. Perhaps in the not so distant future we'll see sabbaticals become more of an accepted career choice here in the UK!
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