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Career Breaks

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Does anyone have any experiences to share with regards to mid career breaks?

Ive been working in IT for a decade and I'm absolutely fed up of it. The work, the people, the commute, the environment, the stress etc is just sapping me of the will to live.

I would love some time off to recuperate, learn some new stuff and spend some time with my young family. However, it feels mega irresponsible turning down such well paying work whilst I have it.

I'm not doing badly financially as we have a few years living expenses saved and a chunky house deposit on top, but bailing out during my peak earning years will definetly damage our financial health and plans for the future!

I don't think a new job will cut it as I'm on my third in six months after my last project was canned. Same old crap at all three!

Would love to hear any thoughts on this as I have toyed with it all year and not made a move!!

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Does anyone have any experiences to share with regards to mid career breaks?

Ive been working in IT for a decade and I'm absolutely fed up of it. The work, the people, the commute, the environment, the stress etc is just sapping me of the will to live.

I would love some time off to recuperate, learn some new stuff and spend some time with my young family. However, it feels mega irresponsible turning down such well paying work whilst I have it.

I'm not doing badly financially as we have a few years living expenses saved and a chunky house deposit on top, but bailing out during my peak earning years will definetly damage our financial health and plans for the future!

I don't think a new job will cut it as I'm on my third in six months after my last project was canned. Same old crap at all three!

Would love to hear any thoughts on this as I have toyed with it all year and not made a move!!

Sorry to be flippant - but you and most of the rest of the sentient workforce are thinking this way

I have had an involuntary 18 month break - I came back stronger into the same career . The break gave me 18 months to think of new projects. My career is difficult to take a break form too as your CV declines fast compare to competitors.

Now, I'm thinking of a voluntary break for similar reasons to those you cite - It could become a permanent break, you never know.

All I can say is that you just have one life and no one ever wishes they spent more time at the office.

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Consider if there are ways that you can tweak or find a more satisfying job so it won't slowly kill you. It's rather Californian (and not really written for us cynical Brits) - but I found the Four Hour Work Week immensely helpful a few years back.

I liked my job in principle, but not in practice.

The result is that I now mostly work from home in the middle of the countryside and am far less stressed about the job as well in general while earning more wonga.

Having grown up poor, I haven't quite got brave enough to take a career break myself. But I do spend more time with my hobbies. The thing that will really kill you deadly is lack of events to look forward to (and later, back upon). Even if you have a crap job, you can still make sure you punctuate your life outside of work with interesting stuff.

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Does anyone have any experiences to share with regards to mid career breaks?

Ive been working in IT for a decade and I'm absolutely fed up of it. The work, the people, the commute, the environment, the stress etc is just sapping me of the will to live.

I would love some time off to recuperate, learn some new stuff and spend some time with my young family. However, it feels mega irresponsible turning down such well paying work whilst I have it.

I'm not doing badly financially as we have a few years living expenses saved and a chunky house deposit on top, but bailing out during my peak earning years will definetly damage our financial health and plans for the future!

I don't think a new job will cut it as I'm on my third in six months after my last project was canned. Same old crap at all three!

Would love to hear any thoughts on this as I have toyed with it all year and not made a move!!

Read 'The Quest of the Simple Life' by William J Dawson. (It's free for Amazon Kindle or you can read it at Project Gutenberg on your PC). If that doesn't shift you, nothing will! It was what inspired me to take a sabbatical myself. I was lucky in that I had an understanding boss who let me have six months unpaid leave (in which I travelled to India and did some voluntary work). It was also a good trial period for me as it gave me the inspiration to move abroad permanently. Of course, it does all depend on your employer; if they won't give you a sabbatical you may just have to give up the job, but it sounds like you are well prepared.

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If you are in the top wage earning potential when you leave it shouldn't be too much of a problem coming back in, especially if your reputation was good on leaving.

However, if you simply plan on stopping what you are doing then coming back to it later, especially if you hated it on the way out, it will only exacerbate the return of your ill feelings on the way back in.

18 months is a long time if you haven't planned it all out. Unless you are very financially secure and have planned out your hiatus you will most likely find that break turns out being 6 months.

Like a lot of things in life where a break can be detrimental, if you plan on coming back in you need to keep up the social networking.

Remember that no matter how secure you feel in your job, there is always somebody smarter, more capable and who will work harder nipping to get your position. That is very often overlooked.

Saying all that, enjoy your time off.

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Its more or less inevitable, that as we're going to working till at leas the age of 70, that most of us are going to have several "careers"...I've never liked that word...I see it as a job...a career is often a carrot that an employer dangles in front of their employee (that promise more money, more status, etc) for more effort, and more hours in the office, but at the end of it, little reward...In effect, you are just as easy to get rid of, as anyone else...

Was in IT for nearly six years, now been out of it for the last five, but will probably go back into it at some point (training along the way)...I've done some completely different things during my time out...such as Landscaping...but to be honest, I couldn't face an office job for the next 35 or 40 years straight...

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Coming up for a year myself. Loved the time off - the amazing summer helped a lot of course.

Never had a permanent job so to speak - so wasn't as big a deal for me as it would be for others. I don't have any dependents either which also made it easier to do.

Now looking at getting back into it. Nothing come up for 6 weeks but not a busy time of year for my sort one work.

What it has taught me is that i know i can't work in an office for the rest of my life. I think if i hadn't had this time off i may have done what most other people do - and just get used to the money until they wake up one day aged 60 thinking - what the ****** am i doing !!

What has surprised me is the total shock recruitment agents have when asking about the gap in my Cv. It seems this really is a VERY unusual thing for a person to do.

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Coming up for a year myself. Loved the time off - the amazing summer helped a lot of course.

Never had a permanent job so to speak - so wasn't as big a deal for me as it would be for others. I don't have any dependents either which also made it easier to do.

Now looking at getting back into it. Nothing come up for 6 weeks but not a busy time of year for my sort one work.

What it has taught me is that i know i can't work in an office for the rest of my life. I think if i hadn't had this time off i may have done what most other people do - and just get used to the money until they wake up one day aged 60 thinking - what the ****** am i doing !!

What has surprised me is the total shock recruitment agents have when asking about the gap in my Cv. It seems this really is a VERY unusual thing for a person to do.

They probably thought you were in prison again! :blink:

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Coming up for a year myself. Loved the time off - the amazing summer helped a lot of course.

Never had a permanent job so to speak - so wasn't as big a deal for me as it would be for others. I don't have any dependents either which also made it easier to do.

Now looking at getting back into it. Nothing come up for 6 weeks but not a busy time of year for my sort one work.

What it has taught me is that i know i can't work in an office for the rest of my life. I think if i hadn't had this time off i may have done what most other people do - and just get used to the money until they wake up one day aged 60 thinking - what the ****** am i doing !!

What has surprised me is the total shock recruitment agents have when asking about the gap in my Cv. It seems this really is a VERY unusual thing for a person to do.

Depends on the recruitment agent in my experience, most are fine but you get the odd prat who thinks that because they have to work continuously to service their mortgage and payments on their car then everybody else has to as well so if there is a gap it's because they've been unable to find a job.

The more experienced recruitment consultant / interviewer will admire it as long as you talk about it (and returning to work) positively.

Pretty much every time I leave a job I leave it with the intention of having six months off, timed to coincide with the good weather. Sometimes I have more, sometimes less, but I am so much better for the break.

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What has surprised me is the total shock recruitment agents have when asking about the gap in my Cv. It seems this really is a VERY unusual thing for a person to do.

Very true. For all you IT peeps, I suggest if you do this set up a company at the same time. Can keep it dormant if you like so very cheap. When returning back to work you can say "I was developing some technology and sold the rights on as I miss working in a larger company". Job done. Gives you "start-up experience" too!

Edit to add: Highly recommend it! Had an amazing year off, took the kids travelling, and managed to sort a lot of crap in my life out too. Although after the break I did go with the start-up idea plus a bit of consultancy to pay the bills - all good.

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Very true. For all you IT peeps, I suggest if you do this set up a company at the same time. Can keep it dormant if you like so very cheap. When returning back to work you can say "I was developing some technology and sold the rights on as I miss working in a larger company". Job done. Gives you "start-up experience" too!

Edit to add: Highly recommend it! Had an amazing year off, took the kids travelling, and managed to sort a lot of crap in my life out too. Although after the break I did go with the start-up idea plus a bit of consultancy to pay the bills - all good.

Right there you are perjuring yourself in a job interview, and, how do you lie your way out of telling them what tech/project you were working on.

Better to tell them you were sunning it up in the costas, putting in a loft extension, or teaching your bairn to ride a bike...or just tell them the truth however trivial.

Britain already has enough bvllshitters and lying your way into a job is normally a sackable offence, or at least it brands you as untrustworthy.

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Right there you are perjuring yourself in a job interview, and, how do you lie your way out of telling them what tech/project you were working on.

Better to tell them you were sunning it up in the costas, putting in a loft extension, or teaching your bairn to ride a bike...or just tell them the truth however trivial.

Britain already has enough bvllshitters and lying your way into a job is normally a sackable offence, or at least it brands you as untrustworthy.

The system is slanted away from people taking career breaks. Two friends of mine have really struggled to get back because of biased ******** corporate types who think a career break means lack of dedication or are simply suspicious of people who don't stay on the corporate grindstone. My example was just that - the selling bit might have been over the top - can quite justifiably claim to have been working on something, which most IT people would probably be anyway.

There is nobody who hasn't bullshitted in some way on their CV. I know that as someone who has employed lots of people in the past. People extend the actual periods they worked, they change their job title, they exaggerate sales success or salary, language capability, etc..

Perjury?! Where the ****** did you have a job interview under oath? :P

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Depends on the recruitment agent in my experience, most are fine but you get the odd prat who thinks that because they have to work continuously to service their mortgage and payments on their car then everybody else has to as well so if there is a gap it's because they've been unable to find a job.

The more experienced recruitment consultant / interviewer will admire it as long as you talk about it (and returning to work) positively.

Pretty much every time I leave a job I leave it with the intention of having six months off, timed to coincide with the good weather. Sometimes I have more, sometimes less, but I am so much better for the break.

I have to admit I've only ever really viewed it as a euphemism for redundancy/left under a cloud or similar.

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I've been working in IT for a decade and I'm absolutely fed up of it. The work, the people, the commute, the environment, the stress etc is just sapping me of the will to live.

I hear ya - I was in an IT consultancy place for 5 years and the stress made me ill. I was just about to pack in IT as a career altogether, but I found a job in a higher education place that was a 10 minute walk from my flat, and had a total of 8 weeks off a year. It doesn't pay as much as some IT jobs but it's secure and not as stressful as the last job.

So identify what it is in particular that's stressing you about the IT job, and see if you can change those things, or at least some of them.

I found the Four Hour Work Week immensely helpful a few years back.

.....

The result is that I now mostly work from home in the middle of the countryside and am far less stressed about the job as well in general while earning more wonga.

Having grown up poor, I haven't quite got brave enough to take a career break myself. But I do spend more time with my hobbies. The thing that will really kill you deadly is lack of events to look forward to (and later, back upon). Even if you have a crap job, you can still make sure you punctuate your life outside of work with interesting stuff.

StainlessSteelCat - what is it that you do now that enables you to work from home?

Yes, go and read the 4 hour work week. Some people dismiss it because its unrealistic to work 4 hours a week, but what I took away from it was that it could be applied on a sliding scale, in the form of a 'retirement' that happens in stages, i.e. maybe by your 40's your financially comfortable enough to work only 4 days a week, then in your 50's 3 days a week, and so on.

Or alternatively, min-retirements of a few months each, as described in the book.

The point about doing some crazy shit every now and then is fantastic advice. There was a scientist called Dr Roy Walford who pioneered work in caloric restriction/life extension, and he had had a 'Signpost' theory of life. And I quote:

"If you spend all your time in the laboratory, as most scientists do, you might spend 35 years in the lab and be very successful and win a Nobel Prize," he told The Times in 2002. "But those 35 years will be just a blur. So I find it useful to punctuate time with dangerous and eccentric activities."

http://www.grg.org/RWalford.htm

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There is nobody who hasn't bullshitted in some way on their CV.

I know what you mean, I normally downplay anything I've done to avoid being given anything too taxing at work.

Boss at last job: "I was speaking to the MD at your last company at a function, apparently you headed up a highly successful team that delivered a multimillion dollar project under budget and on time"

Me: "ah no, he's confused me with someone else, same first name, I was just doing a bit of scripting.... oh and I used to bring the croissants in"

Boss "Ohhh, that's a disappointment, we had a high pressure role, big team, lots of responsibility, foreign travel etc. Well keep it up with those scripts then".

However, it feels mega irresponsible turning down such well paying work whilst I have it.

Yes. In the late 90s in all the dot com madness I had an 18 month gig paying 800 quid a day and I regretted the 20 days holiday I took in that time to a certain extent. Make hay while the sun shines I say.

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StainlessSteelCat - what is it that you do now that enables you to work from home?

I mostly manage a publishing team. That's not quite the full extent of my role though. You might also say I was responsible for learning and developing new areas of the business (unrelated to publishing). I've developed a few side interests which bring in some income too.

I will say it was a gradual process which started in 2005. For example, I spent a couple of years slowly convincing the boss that I could work from a regional office, letting it lie for a while, and then another couple convincing them that working from home would be OK too. There is lots of great advice out there if you are willing to follow it. A more aggressive and smarter person would do it more quickly.

Love the Walford quote btw.

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I'm not doing badly financially as we have a few years living expenses saved and a chunky house deposit on top, but bailing out during my peak earning years will definetly damage our financial health and plans for the future!

Correctly identified the downside. If you are in your 30s this is not the time to become a maverick, the pivotal years are just too important. The time to go easy is probably at the end of your career, you may then thank your former self for the sacrifices made.

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Correctly identified the downside. If you are in your 30s this is not the time to become a maverick, the pivotal years are just too important. The time to go easy is probably at the end of your career, you may then thank your former self for the sacrifices made.

Or to look at it another way - your 30's are the ideal time to do this as being a 'maverick' in any shape or form is going to get more difficult with age.

There is of course the possibility of death or much higher chances of serious illness to worry about. All depends on your general outlook on life.

Personally doing a job you hate in your 30's (that most people i know do) is not going to do much good for your future years.

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I say definitley go and do it. You will regret it for ever if you ignore this desire, personally i don't think its a good thing to constantly deny yourself what you want to do and do the 'right' ie dull thing. Follow your heart!

I'm an IT contractor, always wanted to take a year off to travel finally in my 30s had the courage to do it. Had an absolute great time, saw places and did things I had always dreamt about.

Whilst away I was phoned up about a contract, told the agent I was travelling, they as good as said they didn't believe me and client wouldn't want anyone out of work for that long. Which surprised me to say the least. Forgot all about it and continued the year off, in last month started applying for contracts whilst still away. Ended up with an interview for the day after I landed back in the UK and in work by the following monday. Ironically this was the same position but through a different agent. In that interivew the client asked me about the year off, only to ask where I had been and did I enjoy it! It has never come up again in an interview or application process.

If you already have a long career history no one cares if you took a year out. But to me it was one of the most important years of my life, within six months of returning a health problem meant that I would not be able to do the same things now as I did in that year.

If you can do it and it feels right do it now. Don't wait for life circumstances to change and you won't be able to do it at all. Not everyone is fit and healthy in retirement.

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If you're worried that future employers will just think you've taken a long holiday, then do what I did and combine travelling abroad with voluntary work in your sector. Personnel officers love this kind of stuff. Make sure in job interviews you mention lots of words like 'challenge'...'initiative'...'developing countries' etc... :lol:

In financial terms I was ok, because although I wasn't earning money I wasn't paying a ludicrous London rent! £14 a week got me a little studio flat with a kitchen and bathroom in India, and my food bill was about £7 a week.

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Coming up for a year myself. Loved the time off - the amazing summer helped a lot of course.

Never had a permanent job so to speak - so wasn't as big a deal for me as it would be for others. I don't have any dependents either which also made it easier to do.

Now looking at getting back into it. Nothing come up for 6 weeks but not a busy time of year for my sort one work.

What it has taught me is that i know i can't work in an office for the rest of my life. I think if i hadn't had this time off i may have done what most other people do - and just get used to the money until they wake up one day aged 60 thinking - what the ****** am i doing !!

What has surprised me is the total shock recruitment agents have when asking about the gap in my Cv. It seems this really is a VERY unusual thing for a person to do.

I have had a year off before, filled the cv with consultancy and freelance made up jobs, and I have only worked 5 months out of the last 12. I am however starting to say that I simply took time off between jobs to see how it goes, as is it really so bloody unreasonable?

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I have had a year off before, filled the cv with consultancy and freelance made up jobs, and I have only worked 5 months out of the last 12. I am however starting to say that I simply took time off between jobs to see how it goes, as is it really so bloody unreasonable?

Would appear maybe so. With certain agencies and employers anyway.

There are a few jobs i have applied for where i don't think my Cv could literally fit better If i tried. Yet not even an interview.

I can only imagine the gap is seen as the issue. I think many people think the work they do is more important and difficult than it really is. Hence they may think a year off somehow makes you incapable of just jumping right back into it.

Not that i actually want to - waiting for a business idea to pop into my head asap.

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Would appear maybe so. With certain agencies and employers anyway.

There are a few jobs i have applied for where i don't think my Cv could literally fit better If i tried. Yet not even an interview.

I can only imagine the gap is seen as the issue. I think many people think the work they do is more important and difficult than it really is. Hence they may think a year off somehow makes you incapable of just jumping right back into it.

Not that i actually want to - waiting for a business idea to pop into my head asap.

So we will never get the futuristic life of leisure because some stress buckets can't cope if they aren't killing themselves for an employer who certainly wouldn't work that hard for you. We really like shafting ourselves :)

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