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Embracing Career Breaks

Challenging the Career Gap Stigma

In the wake of the pandemic, the professional landscape has undergone a profound transformation. Companies are now embracing a more holistic approach to employee well-being, with remote or hybrid work becoming the norm. One notable shift is the increasing adoption of four-day workweeks, as highlighted in Andrea Hsu's NPR article, "A manufacturer tried the 4-day workweek for 5 days' pay and won't go back." The results have been largely positive, with companies reporting improved employee well-being and sustained or increased productivity. This trend underscores a fundamental truth: a rigid adherence to traditional work schedules is no longer the only path to success.

Despite these advancements, there remains a pervasive stigma surrounding career breaks. For various reasons, many individuals find themselves with resume gaps – whether due to caregiving responsibilities, personal challenges, or simply taking time to explore life outside of work. For example, one previous client had to take some time off to care for her son who was diagnosed with cancer. Another client was in culinary sales and lost his job during Covid when his company went through a significant downsize. Within the same year, he experienced a divorce and moved across the country. During this personally challenging time, he was presented with the rewarding opportunity to live in and refurbish a 100-year-old, family-owned cabin. He completely renovated a family gem while immersing himself in fishing, hiking, nature, and reflection. Other clients have simply taken time off to care for their children, as the cost of childcare often equates to one partner staying home. It's time to challenge the notion that these breaks detract from a person's value as a professional.

Redefining Work Culture

Life is not meant to be solely dedicated to work. It's a mosaic of experiences, relationships, and personal growth. In Bronnie Ware's book "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" – the regret of working too hard resonates deeply for many – which is a reminder that work is not always the top priority in life.

In addition to recent advancements around well-being within in our work culture, there also needs to be a shift in how we view career breaks. Companies that claim to promote integrity, respect, and well-being must align their hiring practices accordingly. Disqualifying candidates based solely on resume gaps contradicts these principles and perpetuates an outdated stigma. It's time for organizations to embrace diversity in career paths and recognize the wealth of experience that individuals bring.

As we navigate the evolving work landscape, let us seize this opportunity to redefine our collective approach. By embracing career breaks and valuing individuals for their diverse experiences, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate work culture that honors life's multifaceted nature. It's time to end the career gap stigma and usher in a new era of authenticity, fulfillment, and well-being.

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