The No. 1 Reason Women Take Career Breaks Isn’t Caregiving

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If you’ve previously taken a career break — or are considering taking one — you’re actually part of the majority of working women. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 69% of women in the U.S. have taken a break at some point during their career — and the top reason may surprise you. Among women who have taken a career break, 22% cite mental health as their reason for stepping away from their jobs — more than caregiving (13%) or parental leave (13%). Other reasons include medical leave (20%), education (15%) and burnout (13%). In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we chat with Blair Heitmann of LinkedIn about why you might consider taking a career break for your mental health.

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What are some signs you should take a career break for your mental wellbeing?

There are a number of signs that could mean it’s time to take a career break for your own health and wellbeing — like if you’re feeling less motivated with the work in your current role, you have too much to juggle between work and responsibilities at home, or you’re looking to pivot into another industry you’re more passionate about. Taking a career break is more common than you might think, especially among women: 69% of women in the U.S. have taken a career break, with health and wellbeing cited as a top reason.

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What are the benefits of taking a career break in this scenario?

Using this time to focus on the things that energize you can help you discover new areas of interest or passions to inspire your next career move. In the U.S., 71% of women who took a career break say it helped them gain perspective and figure out what they really want from life, and 52% of hiring managers believe people who take career breaks can restart their careers at any time.

Taking a career break can also give you time and space to focus on your own wellness: 70% of women in the U.S. who have taken a career break say it positively impacted their wellbeing.

In January, LinkedIn member Kimberly Turner Eng made the decision to resign from her job. She took a career break to reclaim her health, run on trails, travel to new places and spend time with loved ones. Her story resonated with so many that the post went viral on LinkedIn.

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What are the potential drawbacks of taking a career break?

While some feel that there’s still a stigma associated with taking a career break, what we’re seeing is that sentiment is changing for the better, and hirers want candidates to proactively share more about their time away. In fact, 51% say they are more likely to contact a candidate that provides context and 46% believe candidates with career breaks are an untapped talent pool.

When returning to the workforce, it’s important that job seekers think through how they can proactively bring up experiences from their career break with prospective employers. Make sure to add a career break to the experience section of your LinkedIn profile and list any skills you’ve gained that can easily be transferred to roles you’re interested in. Starting a conversation about how your skills from your time off transfer over to a job is a great way to positively frame your career break to potential employers.

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column explores the reasons behind these inequities and provides solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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