131. How to plan for a sabbatical, enjoy it, and make a successful comeback.

career planning job hunting wellbeing Apr 25, 2022
Career Break - The ultimate guide

I’ve been thinking of doing an episode about sabbatical for a long time. I tried inviting guests, but no one felt comfortable coming out publicly to talk about their experience. This made me even more interested in the whole concept of what these professionals were calling a sabbatical, what it actually was, and why it's still a taboo to take time off from a long career to do whatever else one wants to do or just recover from being laid off and burned out.

Then, last month LinkedIn changed its profile settings recently to allow professionals to identify a career break during their work experience. And in the past couple of weeks, a few prominent Australians quit their jobs. They informed that they were resigning and planning to go on a career break: The Premier of Tasmania, the CEO of the Australian Football League, and former guest of The Job Hunting Podcast and the CEO of Koko Black, Nicolas Georges

Their message was clear: The past couple of years have taken a toll. In his announcement, Peter Gutwein, former Premier of Tasmania, said that there was "nothing left in the tank."

Undoubtedly, more professionals are feeling burned out and dreaming about taking a break. So, how can we plan and enjoy a proper sabbatical and still make a triumphant return to work?

How to plan for a sabbatical or career break:

Have a Runway: For a well-planned break, you will need to build yourself "a runway". In business, the runway is the amount of time a company has before it runs out of cash. So to make your sabbatical as smooth as possible, you need to plan how many months you’re going to be out of work and start saving to be able to afford it. Here are some ideas of how you can achieve your personal runway:

  • Volunteer and accept a redundancy: It's part and parcel with being in the corporate sector. Sooner or later you may find yourself in a restructure, and this may provide a chance to embrace the career break path.
  • Reduce your living expenses: Listen to the episode to learn more about the Reset Your Career content where we discuss this in detail.
  • Plan a career break from your actual profession, but continue to earn by doing a completely different job. In this podcast episode, I provide a few examples. This may help ease the financial stress that a career break imposes, and may be enough to pay the bills.

Have a timeline - then extend it: When you think you’re done with your sabbatical, that's when you start looking for work again. This job search period can be longer than you expected, and you need to be ready and calm about it. Make sure you plan for it too. 

  • Warm up your connections before you leave for your break. Let them know what your plans are, and when you will be back. This will make your return to work easier.
  • Consider including in your plans working with a career coach to make your return easier. You will enjoy your time off if you know you have a trusted advisor to support you when it's time to return to the workforce.

How to enjoy your sabbatical or career break:

Make plans for what you want to do during your break, and then be kind to yourself if you don't do everything you planned: Chances are you won't do everything you planned. We are often optimistic about our plans and ability to get things done. It's ok to have a bucket list, but if you don't do everything that's ok too! And remember to celebrate your achievements!

How to make a successful comeback:

If you took a sabbatical and you’re returning to the same employer: 

  • Check their rules before your leave, and 
  • Abide by the rules: While on sabbatical, you are still an employee. This means that NDAs and confidentiality agreements are still in place, as well as working restrictions. 

Ease into a routine & build daily habits: 

  • Remember that job hunting is work: This means it needs to be done consistently and you need to do it well. 
  • Make yourself valuable to your professional community: Be careful not to jump back at your network asking for help. Instead, ask if they need help from you.
  • Invest in career coaching: If you have been away and you’re not an experienced job hunter, please consider hiring a career coach to support you.  It will save you weeks if not months of job searching.  Click here to learn more about my career services.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

[email protected]


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