Should You Use the LinkedIn Career Break Feature?
Wondering if LinkedIn’s new Career Break feature is for you? Here are all the details and whether or not you should use it.
By: Reem Abouemera | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
It was all going well – you had landed your dream job, had started climbing the career ladder, and finally felt like you were on track to achieving your professional goals. For the first time, you weren’t job hunting in your spare time, and you were feeling more confident than ever.
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Then, one day, the pandemic hit, wreaking havoc on businesses and the economy. Suddenly, you found yourself laid off from your job, facing an uncertain future with a blemish on your otherwise spotless work history. You resume your job search, but the pandemic is still making waves in the job market, with many employers hesitant to hire new candidates.
Before you know it, it’s been nearly a year since you were laid off, and you’re starting to worry about the widening gap in your resume. Against this backdrop, you come across the new Career Break feature on LinkedIn, and it feels like, finally, you’re not alone – if LinkedIn is using the feature, it must be okay.
But is it really? While the LinkedIn Career Break feature may seem tempting, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before using it right away. That’s what this guide is here to help you with!
What Is the LinkedIn Career Break Feature?
LinkedIn’s Career Break is a feature designed to allow you to highlight a break or gap in your career by adding it to your LinkedIn profile. The reasons for career breaks can vary widely, from being a full-time parent or caregiver to being laid off or simply other personal reasons that have kept you from working for a time.
If you add a Career Break to your profile, you can showcase the skills that you developed during your time away, giving employers a better sense of the unique experiences and talents that you can bring to their organization. Your Career Break will appear to potential employers on LinkedIn’s Recruiter to help them get a better sense of your background and experience.
When and Why Was It Introduced?
The feature was introduced in March 2022 to normalize taking time off from work and minimize the stigma associated with career gaps, especially since one in five hiring managers say they reject candidates with long gaps on their resumes. The goal is to represent career breaks in a better light and show employers that you can still be successful in your career despite taking time off.
LinkedIn hopes this feature will be a gateway for candidates and employers to have more open conversations around their unique skills and experiences, regardless of whether they were gained in the traditional workplace or not. In fact, 56% of employees said they acquired new skills or improved existing ones while taking a career break.
Accordingly, giving employers context for your career break eliminates any assumptions or biases they may have about your hiatus from work.
So, Should You Use the LinkedIn Career Break Feature?
While this feature is a significant step forward, we’d advise you to use it cautiously. That means making sure that you use it only when warranted and that you’re not using it in a way that emphasizes your career break over the rest of your professional experience.
Yes, taking a personal break is beyond important, and we recognize that there are many reasons for one. However, highlighting your career gap in the wrong way may send the wrong message to potential employers, making you seem disengaged or uncommitted to the job at hand.
For instance, let’s say you’ve taken time off to care for a loved one. While caring for someone is no doubt a difficult task, focusing on personal details of this experience at the expense of showcasing professional skills may cause employers to question whether or not you’re capable of juggling the core responsibilities of their workplace. Likewise, if you took a year off to travel the world, you’ll want to present the gap in a way that convinces a prospective employer that 1) you’re ready to dedicate yourself to their company and 2) this experience actually made you more qualified to do so than you were before.
Overall, it’s essential to recognize that the information you provide about your career break should complement your professional experience rather than overshadow it. You should use the Career Break feature as an opportunity to emphasize the unique skills and experiences that you gained during that time, rather than presenting your time off soley as a break from work.
How Should You Use It?
For one, before asking how you can use the Career Break feature, we recommend doing some self-reflection. Ask yourself whether or not a career break is something you need to call out or better left as is. Maybe omitting it on LinkedIn would be a better option for your specific scenario. This is especially if the gap is just a few months long.
However, if you do decide to use the Career Break feature, we recommend taking a few steps to ensure that it’s done properly.
First, make sure that you include all the relevant details about your break and how it impacted your career. Be selective when choosing what information to include. There’s no need to go into the details of layoffs, personal illness, or other hardship. Highlight the skills or talents you gained during the break, such as leadership or communication abilities, and detail any volunteer work or courses you took to stay up-to-date in your field.
Additionally, be sure to update your LinkedIn profile to show that you’re actively engaged in your career, even if it’s been a while since you’ve been back to work. This could include adding new skills or certifications to your profile and updating your Summary section to elaborate on why you’re ready to return to the workforce.
That way, your Career Break isn’t all about the actual gap but about what you did during that time to stay current and relevant. That’s all employers are really interested in, after all!
Final Words of Advice
In short, while the Career Break feature is an important step forward in normalizing career breaks, it’s also crucial that we use it judiciously to minimize any possible biases. Think carefully about whether or not your career break warrants highlighting, and use it only in a way that puts your skills front and center.
Overall, remember that a career break is just one aspect of your professional journey. While it may be significant, never let it define your entire resume or career trajectory. With the right approach and mindset, you can use this feature to showcase the unique experiences and skills that you’ve gained during your time off, ultimately landing your dream job! And if you need a professional to help you find the words to present your career break in the right light, our Premium Package includes a full LinkedIn Rewrite.
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