Starting a Career Break Movement
I know that Beyonce is on a career break. I know this because I have a google alert set up for the term “Career Break” and get an email every day showing me recent activity on the internet which includes the phrase “Career Break”.
[singlepic=1771,400,,,right]Other hotbeds of career break talk on the internet seem to be about mothers (expectant ones and especially those going back to the workforce), people who had a ‘big break’ in their career, and our global neighbors the Brits taking a gap year. It seems that in the UK the idea of a career break is a regular part of their vocabulary. What I’ve learned from my Google alert for ‘career break’ is actors, singers, mothers, and Brits can take them; it’s socially acceptable.
When I started researching the keyword “career break’ for our SEO plan for Briefcase to Backpack I knew we had a hard climb ahead of us. I learned Americans don’t really search for the word…ever. I tried the word ‘sabbatical’ and had a few more hits, but in general Americans don’t consider this extended time off concept really part of their vocabulary.
This made me sad and happy. Sad because as Americans we just don’t get it. There are people all over the world taking a break from their career and employers who support that idea. They find a break rewarding, invigorating, educational, and they actually enjoy going back to their job more productive; but not in America. Sad. However I’m happy because it does show the need for Briefcase to Backpack to exist. It shows there’s an opportunity to bring this concept to overworked and burnt out Americans.
One problem – there’s a need, but the people who need it don’t know about it. How do you get people to search for a phrase that they don’t really think exists? Actually, they know it exists because they follow Beyonce’s career break; but they don’t really think that it exists for them.
How do you get a word to get noticed? How do you create excitement and interest in the word so that people want to type it in Google and search for it to learn more? Sometimes I think reaching world peace would be easier than getting Americans to understand that career breaks are possible. People think taking a career break will ruin their career; little do they know that it’s actually a career maker. Not to mention that odds are you’ll bee a happier person after taking a break from your job. Isn’t that what all of us Americans are searching for – the pursuit of happiness?
Video kindly provided by Chris Christensen from Amateur Traveler Podcast
For the same reason that Beyonce takes a year off from singing and dancing…regular people need career breaks too. Sometimes what you need is to grow your experiences and develop skills outside of the workforce. That can be done thru travel, further education, or longer term volunteering. The key is to get away…whatever your away is.
I know what you’re thinking; we aren’t all rich like Beyonce. However you can make it over the money/mortgage hurdle with a little work and a lot of compromising (I never said it was easy…I just said it was possible)
The second big concern about taking career breaks is that you’ll ruin your career with a big gap in your resume. Do you think that Beyonce worries about ruining her career? Probably not. Why? Because she’s confident. She will take this time off and use it to her advantage to re-energize, get to know herself and her strengths better, try new projects, and determine the path she wants to take when she returns to her career. She doesn’t sit and worry about ever winning a Grammy again because she knows she will win another Grammy.
If you take a career break and look closely at what you have learned and how you can apply it to your career when you return , AND you can confidently sell that experience you gained; then you’ll find a job upon your return. People like people who have confidence. I suppose in Beyonce’s case, people also like a nice bootie.
[singlepic=1772,400,,,left]So when you are ready to finally un-tether your bootie from your desk, or you’ve reached a plateau, or you are jealous of the other countries that seem to get endless vacation, or you simply are burned out; then type in these two words “career break”. You might just find out that there is a whole world of websites and articles there to help you realize you aren’t alone. You’ll learn the words “career break” exist for more than movie stars, musicians, Brits, and moms.
You may even find Briefcase to Backpack. I hope you do.
Keith on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 7:01 am
Keep it up B2B! I also believe that the market for a resource like this, practical advice for people that want to take a career break, but ultimately return to a more traditional life vs. becoming a full time digital nomad is huge. We just need to get more practical advice out there on how to do it and why it is a great idea.
Melvin on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 9:32 am
Career Breaks are awesome!
I already had 2 & I’m looking forward to have even more! 🙂
There is no problem to get back to your job. A career break brings you so much, if you travel! You should really do something with that time & not just hang around. But if you travel… or do something else… it’s superb!
It also doesn’t cost you that much, if you don’t want to travel high end. Just save some money for 1-2 years & hit the road!
Keith on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 10:34 am
Great post, really enjoyed it. Keith makes a good point too. As far as your SEO conundrum, perhaps you can plug B2B with some other related meta keywords that people actually do search for in addition to “career break.” Googlers will find your site through those words and perhaps be introduced to the phrase “career break.” I’m no SEO expert so YMMV.
jessiev on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 12:46 pm
brava! i love this. and i also love when career break leads to doing something you LOVE.
Tweets that mention Starting A Career Break Movement | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- Topsy.com on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 11:50 pm
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Christensen, Dr. Jessica Voigts, Sherry Ott, Sherry Ott, Keith Savage and others. Keith Savage said: RT @CareerBreakHQs Starting a Career Break Movement – http://bit.ly/aNievH […]
Dave and Deb on Tue, 27th Apr 2010 10:03 am
Career breaks I think are a necessity in this day and age. They allow you to grow as a person as well as explore something you might not undertake otherwise.
We are on one now and I think it’s gonna become permanent 🙂
Aye (@BHAGNOW) on Tue, 27th Apr 2010 10:19 am
It’s been almost three years since I left my job! However, I have filled my CV with traveling, interpreting, managing our travels, our blog, service projects and the social media aspect of it all! It’s a big learning curve, but hey I have more fun doing all that than being a Director at a Non-profit.. being underappreciated big time!!
I don’t regret it for one second and boy have I learned a lot. I’m lucky that I’ve had a partner in crime who supports me wholeheartedly. Not everyone has that! It took us a long time to get to this point.. but we are here and that’s what counts.
If we can do this (relocate to Thailand) with a 7 yrs old, singles, couples without kids, could too easily!
My husband’s mentality was exactly what you’re referring to in this article- He’s American after all! But now, he’s branching out into something new and exciting whereas before he was more concerned with the logistics of health insurance and stable pay.
Adam on Tue, 27th Apr 2010 10:22 am
Amen!! People thought we were nuts when we told them about our RTW. Or they said, “You’re so lucky, I wish I could do something like that.” My response, “YOU CAN!!!”
It’s just not a priority here in the US, unfortunately. People are too busy trying to keep up with the Joneses and put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak. The reason we were “so lucky” was because we made our trip our priority. We didn’t have expensive cars, a flat screen TV, and the other myriad of toys that everyone else seems to have. We still use our coffee table from college. We ate in almost always, we rarely went out for drinks, and we had to turn down many a fun night out in the interest of saving money. But that’s what was important to us. Doing without the “comforts” that most Americans are used to so we could travel around the world for a year.
Even though we’ve only been back for 6 months, I can’t wait to do it again!!!
Heather on Tue, 27th Apr 2010 1:18 pm
Great post. We have “inspired” at least 2 sets of friends to take their own career breaks, though I’m not sure even we use that term! We’ll do what we can to make it part of our vernacular but more importantly to encourage more people to actually go out and do it!
Dee Andrews on Thu, 29th Apr 2010 3:13 pm
Don’t forget career breaks are great for families too! We took ours with our 6 and 9 year old daughters in tow. It was amazing family time, and we all benefited and grew from our experiences.
Michael on Fri, 30th Apr 2010 10:46 am
Couldn’t agree more! Spreading the virus of the travel bug in the US!
Sherry Ott on Fri, 30th Apr 2010 11:02 am
Thanks everyone for the comments! You are all ambassadors for the Career Break movement in America! Be ready for a long road ahead…hopefully we can drag more people out of their cubicle/safe mindset and get them out exploring the world and building up their international experiences!
Jason on Sat, 1st May 2010 1:04 am
It’s a nice article and I agree that more people should take career breaks. However, I have to disagree with your point that taking a break won’t ruin someone’s career. Having a gap in a resume will hurt any American’s career. The point of a resume is to get to an interview and unfortunately relying on a cover letter to explain the gap in the resume just won’t do it. These people will eventually find jobs and can reach the same point of their career where they took a break but it won’t be easy. It will just become that much harder reaching the interview stage without anything tangible on the resume to fill in the gap.
Michael on Sat, 1st May 2010 1:21 am
@Jason The point is to make it so it is common. As Sherry wrote, the English have been taking career breaks for awhile now and they don’t seem to be having an issue with it. As career breaks start to become more common in the states, I believe employers will start looking into the positive of travel. Plus, the ‘extra’ work of finding a job isn’t that much of a big deal compared to the life long experience of travel itself. In todays market with the unemployment rate, many people have large gaps and its quite common nowadays. I don’t believe employers are much concerned with large gaps as they use to perhaps 10 years ago.
Sherry Ott on Sun, 2nd May 2010 1:23 am
@Jason and @Michael – thanks for the comments! Like anything in life, it all depends on how you approach it. If you think that ‘a gap’ is a negative thing, then you will most likely feel like you are at a disadvantage when it comes to re-entering the workforce. However if you look at it as a positive thing – a resume builder – one in which you went out and learned more about other cultures, international business, took smart risks, learned how to be flexible – then I’m pretty positive that you will have no problem addressing that in a cover letter, resume, or an interview. It’s a matter of changing your mindset first, then you can change other people’s mindsets.
I look at career break travel as a very positive thing you can tout in your cover letter and resume…not something you have to ‘explain’.
Regardless – we still have a long way to go to get more people to think this way! Please continue to help us get America on the right track!
Amy on Wed, 19th May 2010 7:02 pm
A site like yours goes a long way towards advancing the idea of a career break in American culture. When I was in the dreaming stage, it was hard to find role models because I didn’t know any in real life. A site likes yours gives people the inspiration, advice and courage to take the leap. I hope that one day what I have done, and what people on this site have done, is commonplace in American society.
Sherry Ott on Wed, 19th May 2010 10:12 pm
@Amy – thanks so much for your kind words! That’s exactly what we are trying to do…make it commonplace in American society…spread the word!
Sounds like you have a great story to share!
Meet Plan Go Travel Event | Ottsworld on Fri, 21st May 2010 9:50 am
[…] travel discussion is another avenue which we can use to inspire people to travel and help them realize the benefits of career breaks! We can’t do it alone, so we are enlisting the help of well known travel bloggers and experienced […]
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