Expert Tips for Discussing Career Breaks in Job Interviews

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Taking a career break doesn’t have to be a dirty secret when applying for a new job. Instead, learn how to use it to your advantage and talk about it openly in your interview. Here are some tips to turn what might seem like a potential stumbling block into a powerful asset.

Firstly, should you put the career breaks in your resume to begin with?

  • Yes, if it was a recent break and definitely if it was right before the position you’re interviewing for.

  • No, if it was a while ago, more than 3-5 years ago, and you’ve been working since.

If your break was recent, it’ll need to be discussed in the interview. The best time to bring it up is when they ask about your experience and skills.

Ensure you cover:

  • What you did, e.g. year of travelling or parental leave 

  • Why you took the break, e.g. wanted to see the world and experience different cultures

  • How you kept up with industry trends and development, e.g. signed up to industry newsletters, blogs and webinars

  • How you used your skills and upskilled during this time, e.g. completed a short online course

Be prepared to talk about the break and be honest. It’s not a good look if you’re being shady around why you took the time off. Your interviewer will most likely respect that you’ve addressed it and explained the reasoning.

Make an effort to get up to speed with the industry standards and trends you may have missed during your career break. Being able to show that you’re still engaged and excited about the industry and your role may reduce the interviewer’s scepticism around the break.

If you’re on a career break while applying for jobs, you may want to consider addressing it in your cover letter. Include a small section explaining your work absence, though this isn’t a necessity.

Looking for a new career move, whether you’re currently working or on a break? Reach out to one of our specialist consultants in Architecture & Design, Business Support, Construction, Engineering, Property, Public Sector and Town Planning & Design.