How to turn a career break or sabbatical into job success – live chat

Matthew Jenkin
Emma Watson took a break from acting in 2012 to finish a degree at Brown University. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

After casting a spell over audiences for a decade as Hermione in the Harry Potter film franchise, Emma Watson surprised her fans by announcing she was taking a break from acting to concentrate on finishing a literature degree at Brown University. While the star didn’t completely abandon her big screen career, it allowed her to pursue new projects and find fresh opportunities.

Whether it’s because you want to learn a new skill, pursue passions and interests, or simply reflect on a new career direction, a break from your current job can help. But how do you make sure the gap in your CV doesn’t damage your future career?

The first place to start is deciding what kind of break you want to take. While there is no legal obligation to offer them, companies should have a clear policy regarding career breaks and sabbaticals. These are both usually unpaid, with the latter normally for a shorter period of time.

The next step is deciding what you want to do on your break. While it may be tempting to pack your bags and travel the world, you will probably need to sell the benefits of your break to employers when you return. So whether it’s volunteering to build schools in Africa or studying coding, think carefully about the impact that might have on whatever job you decide to return to.

If you are thinking about taking a career break or sabbatical, join us on Wednesday 16 August at 1pm–2.30pm for a live chat with our expert panel to discuss what type of break is right for you. We’ll be covering:

  • Benefits of taking a career break or sabbatical
  • What to do during a break to boost your career
  • How to manage financially
  • CV, interview and job application advice when you return

The Q&A will take place in the comments section below this article. Taking part is easier than ever: to comment create a free Guardian account, or log in using your Twitter or Facebook profiles. Alternatively, you can tweet us @GuardianCareers or email your questions to susie.bearne@theguardian.com, who can post them for you.

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