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How Does Taking One Year Off Look To Employers?

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  • Jan 2nd, 2020 1:56 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 18, 2017
671 posts
542 upvotes

How Does Taking One Year Off Look To Employers?

Hello RFD,

Like the title says, how do employers look at candidates that have a one year gap in their resume? Do HR just throw it out and it doesn’t even go to the hiring managers? I can explain in my interview why I took a year off without a problem, just I am not sure how the screening process works.

I don’t mind working abroad but I think getting a job within my field (investment risk) might be difficult as regulations in those countries differ from Canada and I would have zero knowledge. And I am not sure how work visa works in these cases. I think the best thing for this particular scenario would be to work for a company that already has international presence in that country. Unfortunately my company only has presence across Canada only.

Even if I don’t work in my specific field, I can simply do whatever job I can there to earn a pay. I will try to save as much as possible so that money isn’t that of a concern and can survive for a year, but do realize lots of countries abroad are quite expensive. I am just worried that when I come back to Canada, I will have a hard time getting back in the field. I also educational knowledge of data analytics and have learned couple of programming languages like python that may open doors broader companies maybe.

I’ve always wanted to live abroad just for the experience and I am contemplating it in 2021 possibly. This is probably the best time to do it as I don’t have any commitment like family etc. My parents recent death kind of gave me a different perspective in life and I know they had regrets in their life and they couldn’t do everything they wished to, and I don’t want to have regrets in my life and I would like to do as much things that I’ve always wanted to do as much as possible (bucket list).

Also would anyone have recommendations as to which countries would be the best in my situation, if any. I am still deciding on that and not quite sure.
20 replies
Deal Addict
Oct 6, 2015
2463 posts
1367 upvotes
Employers don't really care about that, but they are overwhelmed with applicants for almost all professional fields (outside of healthcare), so if you already have a job, leaving it could mean an incredibly difficult time of re-entry. Especially if your company is in a downsizing or even stagnation mode when you get back.

Programmers, software people of all kinds, a dime a dozen. Those skills don't "open any doors" and may close them in fact.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
1680 posts
1967 upvotes
Who cares? The ones that make it a big deal, do you want to be working in that sort of culture? Others may view it as a positive experience to bring into their organization. If you weren't in jail or something like that, it really should not make that big of a difference.

Life is short, no one will wish that they spent more time at a job when they look over their life.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
16017 posts
8858 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
maple1 wrote: Who cares? The ones that make it a big deal, do you want to be working in that sort of culture? Others may view it as a positive experience to bring into their organization. If you weren't in jail or something like that, it really should not make that big of a difference.
Both points have merit.

But as you have stated "If you weren't in jail or something like that", that's what the potential employer is worried about. Gaps in the resume matter; hence, it's better for people to look for new jobs when they are currently employed than after they left. Good employers will ask about those gaps ... a good candidate knows this and will have a good reason for those gaps. The problem that happens is when the candidate doesn't have a good reason.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
1680 posts
1967 upvotes
craftsman wrote: Both points have merit.

But as you have stated "If you weren't in jail or something like that", that's what the potential employer is worried about. Gaps in the resume matter; hence, it's better for people to look for new jobs when they are currently employed than after they left. Good employers will ask about those gaps ... a good candidate knows this and will have a good reason for those gaps. The problem that happens is when the candidate doesn't have a good reason.
Your comments are also spot on especially in today's work environment. For the OP if he/she will be looking to work outside of Canada, it would expected that that is reflected in the resume rather than just having a gap in time. Most applications today are online and they will ask if the applicant has been convicted or something to that effect.

With that said, it isn't that easy to get a job overseas especially if a work visa is required especially if doing it from Canada. Hopefully, the OP is lucky and will find something easily but be prepared for a grind as looking for work isn't easy anywhere.
Deal Fanatic
Oct 23, 2004
8201 posts
4889 upvotes
Toronto
I went through this recently, resigned from my previous IT job after 12 years at the same company to take a break to enjoy life, mentally recharge and take my time finding a better job. I only intended to take 6 months off but a year had passed by the time I started working again.
Every situation is different but I think you'll be fine if you have in demand experience, skills and a reasonable explanation for your time off work. When I was asked in interviews about the gap and why I left my previous employer, I was simply honest with them. I explained how the company made big changes, my position and opportunity for growth stagnated as a result and so I felt like taking some time off to travel, spend time with family and plan my next career move. No one questioned it further or made a big deal out of it and I got the job.
That said there were a handful of jobs I applied to where I felt I was more than qualified but didn't even get called for an interview and I'm not sure if it was because of the gap or some other factor. I suspect a lot of postings are just formalities while they already have an internal candidate selected or some of them are just straight up data mining with no intention of hiring anyone. In any case persistence eventually paid off and worked out even though it took longer than expected.
Sr. Member
Aug 31, 2012
500 posts
154 upvotes
Toronto
Can you take an unpaid leave of absence? That way you will have the option to go back but don’t have to decide until you return. Another way to keep the door open while you explore other options.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 31, 2008
11638 posts
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Toronto
Too many variables to consider. Mainly, the explanation is more important than the actual reason. As long as the story makes sense, and it comes across honest.
Member
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May 2, 2014
300 posts
85 upvotes
Toronto
not a big deal, so long as it can be demonstrated that you were not fired.

you may want to clarify this in your cover letter (i.e. after working x number of years, i decided to go solve world hunger)
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
16017 posts
8858 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
ausername wrote: not a big deal, so long as it can be demonstrated that you were not fired.

you may want to clarify this in your cover letter (i.e. after working x number of years, i decided to go solve world hunger)
Definitely. Answer the question before the potential employer answers it for you.
Deal Addict
Oct 29, 2010
4317 posts
667 upvotes
ausername wrote: not a big deal, so long as it can be demonstrated that you were not fired.

you may want to clarify this in your cover letter (i.e. after working x number of years, i decided to go solve world hunger)
Is that really a big deal if you were fired? People get fired all the time, doesn’t mean they’re not good.
Also, employers let go for vague reasons for liability reasons, I would guess if you set up the story it’s not necessary a big deal.
Member
User avatar
May 2, 2014
300 posts
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Toronto
flafson wrote: Is that really a big deal if you were fired? People get fired all the time, doesn’t mean they’re not good.
Also, employers let go for vague reasons for liability reasons, I would guess if you set up the story it’s not necessary a big deal.
employers/recruiters do not want risk (ie. hiring someone that does not get along with coworkers, does not do good work, etc). someone who was fired may raise an initial redflag - warranted or not.
this does not mean all hope is lost, you just want to frame the context early on, such as on the cover letter - and defn. would want strong references that can speak enthusiastically good about the individual's performance and character.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
16017 posts
8858 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
flafson wrote: Is that really a big deal if you were fired? People get fired all the time, doesn’t mean they’re not good.
Also, employers let go for vague reasons for liability reasons, I would guess if you set up the story it’s not necessary a big deal.
You may be to be confusing firing with being let go which may seem similar at the end (ie person X is no longer employed) but viewed completely different by potential employers. Fired generally means that the employee was terminated with cause VERSUS let go may be terminated with cause but may also mean laid off/RIF'd (reduction in workforce) or terminating without cause. Terminating someone with cause should not have any vague reasons but has a very specific cause... if the reasons were vague, that could be grounds for a wrongful dismissal case and no employer wants that. Terminating with cause is typically viewed very negatively from a potential employer point of view especially if the cause is concerning (ie theft, harassment,...). Terminating without cause, on the other hand, do have more vague reasons such as not enough work, downsizing, re-org... and is generally viewed by potential employers as neutral to positive (ie won't affect chances or an opportunity to hire someone with experiences and skills who is normally not available).
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 18, 2017
671 posts
542 upvotes
ReeGee wrote: I went through this recently, resigned from my previous IT job after 12 years at the same company to take a break to enjoy life, mentally recharge and take my time finding a better job. I only intended to take 6 months off but a year had passed by the time I started working again.
Every situation is different but I think you'll be fine if you have in demand experience, skills and a reasonable explanation for your time off work. When I was asked in interviews about the gap and why I left my previous employer, I was simply honest with them. I explained how the company made big changes, my position and opportunity for growth stagnated as a result and so I felt like taking some time off to travel, spend time with family and plan my next career move. No one questioned it further or made a big deal out of it and I got the job.
That said there were a handful of jobs I applied to where I felt I was more than qualified but didn't even get called for an interview and I'm not sure if it was because of the gap or some other factor. I suspect a lot of postings are just formalities while they already have an internal candidate selected or some of them are just straight up data mining with no intention of hiring anyone. In any case persistence eventually paid off and worked out even though it took longer than expected.
Thank you for the insight! I agree but the main purpose for me to do this is just to reflect on life and see if I enjoy doing what I currently do.

Like I mentioned I don’t really mind if I go to another country and simply work like at Starbucks or something. As long as im doing something there even part time. If I do something like that, not sure how positive it would look on my resume in any case.

I definitely know its very very difficult to get a job internationally and it seems my best bet is to work for a company that already has that presence.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 18, 2017
671 posts
542 upvotes
Maplesugar25 wrote: Can you take an unpaid leave of absence? That way you will have the option to go back but don’t have to decide until you return. Another way to keep the door open while you explore other options.
Hm I can always think about that if I talk to my employer. But my job is too much of a replaceable job where they can easily hire someone else. It’s also not a job I planned to stay at forever (still entry level). I am still looking to get a higher position later on with more experience whether it be in the same company or not.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 18, 2017
671 posts
542 upvotes
craftsman wrote:
Definitely. Answer the question before the potential employer answers it for you.
Agreed. Answering the question in an interview I’m not too worried about. My reason is quite valid and makes a lot of sense to why I wanted to take a year off to refresh and rethink about life.

What truly concerns me is HR would vent my resume during the screening process if there is a long gap. Like someone said here maybe I can explain in my cover letter but I don’t see that working. I don’t believe HR truly reads the cover letters unless its for a high end up like management or senior positions.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
16017 posts
8858 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
hockeyfan1990 wrote: Agreed. Answering the question in an interview I’m not too worried about. My reason is quite valid and makes a lot of sense to why I wanted to take a year off to refresh and rethink about life.

What truly concerns me is HR would vent my resume during the screening process if there is a long gap. Like someone said here maybe I can explain in my cover letter but I don’t see that working. I don’t believe HR truly reads the cover letters unless its for a high end up like management or senior positions.
The general application process is hard when it comes to transparency - ie there isn't any. No-one knows if it was the gap or anything else in the resume that caused the non-interview.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 23, 2007
5061 posts
1155 upvotes
How you present it matters. Obviously if there exists other equally qualified candidates, then you would have 1 year less experience than them. Of course, in reality no candidates will be equal in experience and personality. What matters the most to most employers are years of RELEVANT experience. A person may have 10 years working experience but only 5 of which are related to the position. If in the same candidate pool you got someone who just outshines you in every way, you are out of luck anyways.

I always remind people that hiring is a HUMAN decision. I always compare it to dating. If you tell your date you are a workoholic, she may or may not like it. Maybe she prefers someone responsible and puts supporting family first. Or maybe she is loaded and prefers someone who can travel the world with her. Your best bet is to be your best self, and present yourself in the best way. Then if it's a good match, you can be together. No real point in being with someone who isn't a good fit as that's just a life of misery for both. I always remind people that there's always someone richer, more funny, more good looking than you. So focus on what you can control and aim for what you think you deserve. No shame in shooting high. If you miss, try again and adjust your aim. Better than always settling for less than you deserve right?

Jobs are similar. A hiring manager may look at your one year gap and overthink it. You need to use your EQ during the interview to assess how big of a deal it is to him/her. When the question is asked, consider the facial expression and the tone of the interviewer. Answer the question while observing the interviewer's face. Does he/she seem "ok" with your answer? If not, tweak your answer a bit. At the end of the day, what matters is that you can do the job. So focus on that. If the 1 year gap makes you less competitive in the eyes of the interviewer, that's an expectation gap you need to overcome with your other responses during the interview.
Deal Addict
Nov 2, 2011
2675 posts
1267 upvotes
hockeyfan1990 wrote: Agreed. Answering the question in an interview I’m not too worried about. My reason is quite valid and makes a lot of sense to why I wanted to take a year off to refresh and rethink about life.

What truly concerns me is HR would vent my resume during the screening process if there is a long gap. Like someone said here maybe I can explain in my cover letter but I don’t see that working. I don’t believe HR truly reads the cover letters unless its for a high end up like management or senior positions.
If you have a degree, you can teach English in basically any Asian country. The salary will not be close to what you are making here, but it is still more than enough to live on over there.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2008
932 posts
192 upvotes
Mississauga
burnt69 wrote: Programmers, software people of all kinds, a dime a dozen. Those skills don't "open any doors" and may close them in fact.
Huh? There is a shortage of good software developers. Anyone who can write a for loop and spin up a stylesheet refers to themsevles as a programmer these days. If you are any good it opens up a ton of doors and you can easily take a year off to do whatever you like, you will still have recruiters beating your door when you come back.

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