Have you ever dreamed of taking a year or more off to travel with a partner, yourself... the circus? Ever wanted to get away from the daily grind for a long stretch to… Make memories with your kids? Help a parent, brother or sister? Rest and recover from… whatever. Go to surfing camp in Belize? Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, then hang out on the beach in Zanzibar?
Don’t we all know “that couple” who took their kids out of school to travel for a year?
Maybe they rented an RV or hopped on a boat to sail around the world. Ahhh, to step away from the race and chase and leave it all behind. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of taking time off, you’ve probably asked yourself one or both of these questions:
“How will this impact my career?” “How will I explain this to an employer if I plan on going back to work?”
When did having a perfect linear work history become a thing?
Because, when you think about it, it's a ridiculous (!!!) standard. About half of the people I work with share something like this: “Courtney, I think I’m under a dark cloud.” This is what almost always follows “It did not end well with my last employer…”
or “I’m not employed now and I know that’s working against me.”
("Oh really? How do you know?” I’m often dying to ask, but bite my tongue.)
“I got fired …” (“Good for you!” I want to say. Because usually that means you stood up for something or someone.)
Because those who guzzle the Kool-Aid, tolerate unethical behavior and don’t speak up for others in toxic environments almost never get fired or get fired anyway.
They are valued “Yes” men and women keeping the established power structure in place; they’re safe.
It’s the truth-tellers they fire.
I'll tell you what I tell them:
Did you know that 78% of executives who get fired end up becoming CEO and 98% get a position that was as good or better than their last.* (Yeah, and they got fired!! Don't you love it!?) Take that! office-bully-bad-boss.
People who get fired or pushed out are often extremely competent leaders who've threatened someone. No, this isn’t always the case, but it is far more often than you’re led to believe when the ink is still wet on your diploma. I’m not making light of the real financial impact of being unemployed, but I find that’s unnecessarily paired with insecurity that comes when your career doesn’t smoothly daisy chain from job to job.
You feel you have to explain for justify some “irregularity” or "inconsistency." Spoiler Alert: You don’t. Reality: more people than not have gaps, breaks, zig and zags in their work history. Life is not linear. It's the zigs and zags that make it interesting and that make you better and give your work dimension and depth.
I don’t know about you, but in my experience those are by far the most interesting parts. Life happens: new cities, kids, hobbies, adventures, once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities, the smart decision to rest before you burn out, the need to care for others, the need to care for yourself, the need to step out for whatever reason you want. (It's your life!)
We all deserve to have a life to reflect on and smile.
And a gap-free, linear work history is not what warm memories are made of.
So what do you do when someone looks at your resume and starts nitpicking? It’s all about the messaging. A few simple tactics and the right language (and not too much of it!) will dispatch whatever career wrinkle might concern you. You can diffuse it with grace and ease and get on with your life. (We show you how in Job Hunt School.)
(Really, even if the cops walked you to your car when you left your last job.)
So renew your passport and hit the road!
Make your move.
Send me a postcard!
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.
In that spirit...
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