Last week I was doing a LinkedIn consultation with a professional who had taken time (a couple of years?) off to care for her father. She has had a fantastic, awesome career, but didn’t know how to explain her years off. She asked me how to explain this, and I reached out to career professionals in the Career Directors LinkedIn Group for advice. The experience these professionals have is broad and deep, which is why I like getting input from different professionals. Below is what I learned. I hope this can help you if you are in this situation:
Hi Jason – I would also use a sabbatical statement such as the ones Don provided. I also might just insert a statement such as:
“Took two-year leave to serve as caretaker for parent. Stayed current on industry trends and learning to remain fully prepared for next corporate challenge.”
Employers want to know that your knowledge is up-to-date as far as their needs, and that your skills aren’t rusty. There are plenty of free online courses to help even those very immersed in their caretaker roles.
Jason — I don’t think it requires a big explanation. I would either put “Family sabbatical,” “Personal Sabbatical” or “Professional Sabbatical” without adding anything else in either resume or cover letter. It just accounts for the time. And I only use years, not months/years.
There are millions and millions of Baby Boomers taking care of parents (myself included). And over the past several years I have worked with many people who have relocated, quit their jobs or took part-time work to handle what their parents need.
It is very common now and nothing your client should be nervous about. You never know that maybe the person reading would have given their eye teeth to be able to take time off work rather than feeling guilty that their job was keeping them from doing it..
I moved my mother with Alzheimer’s into assisted living in January. I was at part-time work until about the end of July because none of her affairs were in order. And I’m still dealing with two attorneys, etc. even though I’m close to full time work now. I would have had to quit a corporate job.
But in the first half of the year there was absolutely no way I could have been doing anything related to my work for keeping up with my industry or anything else. I was up to 3 am, 5 am and more trying to sell my mother’s home and everything else. I would not have been able to even think about online coursework because it frankly was not my top priority and I was exhausted.
And I wouldn’t include “fully resolved” because I think it then puts the reader in a slightly awkward position of assuming that mom or dad actually died.
Jason, I try to be as straightforward as possible, composing a quote based on the client’s circumstance. Also, I usually refer to it as a “professional leave” or “career break” because I feel the word “sabbatical” has some nuances that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.
I place the quote under the Professional Experience heading.
2012 to Oct. 2014: “I took a professional leave to attend to my terminally ill brother; following his passing, I engaged in a variety of professional development opportunities to maintain credentials and volunteer roles to keep abreast of industry trends.”
You get the gist. It may be wordy and it may be slightly shocking, but on the other hand, it leaves nothing to the imagination of the reader. Plus, the dates will (ideally) be captured by ATS.
Thanks to Don, Mary, Irene and Christine for sharing their thoughts – if you have a different idea, please share it in the comments below!
I get David Safeer’s newsletters, and this was had an idea that was too good to not share. David is a management and leadership consultant – read about him on the front page of his site. He’s done a very nice job communicating who he is and why he is relevant to his right audience.
In his most recent newsletter he shares his “business principles,” which are business principles “to achieve outstanding performance.” It made me wonder, what are my business (or life, or marriage, or father, or entrepreneur, or CEO, or product manager, etc.) principles?
He says he wrote these almost ten years ago, and that reviewing them now, there are NO changes to make. To me that indicates they are indeed principles instead of tactics, which can and usually should change over time. Go check out his list – it really reads like a short book on how to do better in business.
As I read his list I had three thoughts:
His list is about people and relationships, not about numbers. He says: “I am convinced that people are THE key to a successful organization, so my thoughts about business principles turn often to the people side of things.” Where do your thoughts about your principles turn?
Can you create your own list of principles? This could be like a personal business plan, or map, that helps you make decisions and be true to yourself. What would be on your list?
Once you have a list, this is a great way for you to stay relevant. How? Read on…
Being relevant is an interesting concept. When I started JibberJobber I thought people would talk about me and JibberJobber for a long time. I got interest and buzz at first, but then things died down, and I found I had to continually put something interesting and/or new in front of people. I wrote a book on LinkedIn, and that did it (for a while). But then 40 other people wrote books on LinkedIn, and I wasn’t THE expert anymore. I was losing relevance. I had to do other things, which I did. I still do other things to stay in front of people and try to stay relevant.
Why do you think LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook make so many changes to their systems? Some are good and needed, others are simply to get press.
Think about this for YOU. What can you do to remain relevant with your audience?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a branding/networking thing. I think having guiding principles is AWESOME. I encourage you to work on your own. And, use what you come up with as a reason to get back in front of your network contacts and create a bit of buzz or conversation.
I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter. She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):
Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”
In this eight-year-old blog post, I give my opinion (read: OPINION) about what your email provider says about you. I talk about gmail, juno, aol, hotmail, mac, your employer, and your own private domain name.
1. What do you use?
2. What do you think? Are people really judging others based on the email address – the part after the @ symbol – and perhaps discounting you as someone who is obviously behind-the-times?
In my email signature I have a link to the new Video Game Design and Entrepreneur class I’m starting in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be awesome, and a lot of fun. (by the way, the youngest student is 7, the oldest is in his 60s… it might be just the class for you, too)
Today I was on a call with a business associate who noticed the line in my signature. Her son will be in college soon and is looking at graphic arts programs…. she asked for any advise I had on breaking into the video game world (not programming, but with graphics). This is actually a great question, and we had a fun conversation.
The gist of the conversation was this: to get into that space, or any space, really, you should build a portfolio.
How powerful would it be to go to a potential employer and have the same credentials as the other people on the shortlist: a degree, a portfolio from school, etc., but also have a portfolio of video games that are on the market and available for download? If you want to get into a video game design firm, and you have at least one game that you have designed, and people have downloaded it (and even rated it), isn’t that a great way to show your passion and skill level?
She mentioned that he didn’t want to do programming, his passion was in design. I suggested that going through the course would give him an additional breadth that would help him break down walls with programmers. I know a lot of programmers who don’t like working with graphics artists because of the way the two roles work.
Think about this with your own career and job search. What have you done so that a company you are interested in can understand your skills and professional passion?
Artists have known this for years… having a portfolio is just the way it is.
Can accountants (who are in transition) have a portfolio?
How can you substantiate, or allow others to visualize, your skill set? What do you got that is more impressive than a list of credentials?
(I think I know the answer for any profession, but what do you think?)
Valerie Gonyea is one of my favorite people… she recently posted this on Facebook:
In the comment thread, she continued:
The hidden job market has been defined as job opportunities that exist but aren’t posted for the public to know about them. In other words, once it’s online, or on a job board, it is not “hidden.” In this example, this opporunity came when “the CEO and the CFO had just started to come to the conclusion that they needed some help.” Who knew about it? NO ONE. It was “hidden.” No one could have known about it because the to CxOs had just started to come to the conclusion… this was far from being posted online, and far away from them going to a recruiter to find talent.
Valerie “tapped into the hidden job market” (which is what we all want to do) by, as she said, working it. She reached out, and I’m sure she let the two people she reached out to know who she was (what kind of work she does) and what she was looking for. She did it in a clear enough way that they could communicate that to their network… and it worked.
Will you talk to only and exactly two people? Probably not… some people talk to two hundred plus people…. but talking is where it is at. Valerie probably had NO competition in the decision-making phase… contrast that with the idea of being one of hundreds of resumes submitted online.
Think differently about where you spend your time. This concept would have changed the way my job search went entirely.
Without going into the technicalities of how search works (Google owns the entire space, and makes changes at will that can (do) bring a company to their knees), let’s go into what it means to have a personal relationship manager.
In the olden days, the late 1900′s, someone figured out that salespeople could use a software system to help them manage and organize relationships with prospects and customers. This system would help them stay focused on what they needed to do to close more deals (and make more money). The system would allow them to search for their contacts, get reminders of when they needed to follow-up with them, etc.
A few weeks into my job search, in 2006, I realized that I, as a job seeker, needed a similar system. I was applying to a lot of companies and it was really frustrating trying to keep track of that with a spreadsheet. I was finally starting to “network,” and meeting new people just added to the level of complexity. A job seeker should be one of the busiest salespeople around… and they really need an industrial strength system to help them keep track of everything, especially when they need to (or have an opportunity to) follow-up.
organize and manage my jobs (I do contract work, speaking, selling stuff, etc.), and I need to follow-up and keep track of where those opportunities are, as well as push reminders in front of me. This is what a job seeker needs, and is exactly what a contractor/freelancer needs.
organize my personal stuff, like rotating the tires on the car, making house or car or credit card payments, keeping track of the garage door and appliance repairman numbers, dates of service, costs, and maintenance coming up.
I’m not keeping track of EVERYTHING in JibberJobber. Very personal things are not getting logged (use a journal (book) for that)… mundane or normal conversations are not getting logged, unless there is an important follow-up date I need to be aware of.
JibberJobber starts as a job search organizer for a lot of people, but then becomes a tool to help them with their life management.
No, of course you don’t NEED something like this… but it sure helps take the stress off of trying to remember everything.
Not in a job search? As long as you are alive, I bet you could benefit from a JibberJobber account. It can easily be your own personal relationship manager!