It’s time to normalise and even embrace career breaks – because they are not rare. Some 63 percent of Singaporean women have either had taken a career break, or have considered taking one, according to a survey by the Singapore Business Federation in 2021 This was in large part due to family commitments – 60 per cent of the country’s informal caregiving is still done by women.
It used to be that having a gap on your CV was a big no-no. But the pandemic has blown that attitude away. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 46 per cent of hiring managers believe candidates with career breaks are an untapped talent pool. And now you can use a career break to strengthen your skills, and even try on new career options.
Things have changed so much that professional networking site LinkedIn has just introduced a new way to represent a career break in the Experience section of your LinkedIn Profile. You can fill in options like Caregiving and Health And Wellbeing. As LinkedIn’s Camilla Han-He explains. “Although it may feel uncomfortable to bring up with potential employers, hirers actually want to know more about your career break: 51 per cent say they are more likely to contact a candidate that provides context.”
Mei Lee, now in her late 40s, has taken two career breaks – the first due to a toxic work environment, and the second for personal reasons. And both times she’s come back to jobs that are either of the same level, or one level higher. She’s now a partner in a management consulting firm. She notes, “Some recruiters asked me why I took a break. I was upfront about my reasons as I felt it was important to be genuine. The stereotype out there is. ‘This person took a break because they are no good. Or they got fired.’ You have to accept this reality and prepare your response in a thoughtful manner, so you don’t come across as surprised or defensive during the job search process.” Here are key strategies you need to re-enter the workforce with confidence, after taking a career break: