Parenting

Finally, LinkedIn Has A Feature That Lets You Explain Career Breaks

CHINA - 2021/12/09: In this photo illustration, the logo of LinkedIn, a business and employment oriented network and platform owned by Microsoft is seen displayed on a smartphone screen with an economic stock exchange index graph in the background. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The new feature will especially benefit women, who are more likely to have resumé gaps

With the global pandemic and the other assorted issues of the last two years, a record number of women are dropping out of the workforce. At the same time, millions of other workers are leaving their careers as part of the Great Resignation, for a variety of reasons, ranging from burnout to childcare responsibilities to returning to school.

One positive to such career chaos is that LinkedIn has stepped up and developed a new feature that allows users to label and explain career breaks — and even brag about the skills you picked up while you were away from the office.

“Experience outside a linear career path can make people better colleagues, thought partners, and leaders,” reads the site’s interface. “Share these moments that make you unique.”

If you’ve ever taken time out of the workforce, you’ve probably worried about how to explain the gap in your resume. It’s abundantly clear to anyone who’s ever stayed home to care for small children, for example, that doing so is real work, as well as pretty intense training in skills like multi-tasking, conflict resolution, and crisis management. If you can handle a colicky baby, no CEO meltdown is going to faze you.

LinkedIn has offered users the option of selecting ‘Stay-At-Home-Mom’ and other caretaker titles since last spring, in the wake of record numbers of women leaving the workforce to cope with the childcare crisis and health care crisis triggered by the pandemic. Now, the career-focused social network is providing an even better way for people to add a career break to their profiles and emphasize the skills that they gained during this time.

To add a career break to your profile, click “add section” under your profile picture, and then select “career break.” You can select from a long list of descriptors to classify your break, ranging from “full-time parenting,” “caregiving,” “bereavement,” “professional goal pursuit,” and “health and well-being.” The feature also offers you a space to explain how you spent this time and what skills you gained.

Image: LinkedIn

Camilla Han-He, a product manager with the company who spearheaded this change, said in a LinkedIn post, “in many cases, it’s your off-your-resume experience that truly gets to the heart of your passions, gifts and strengths.”

And on the flip side, it can look strange or suspicious when there’s a black hole in your resume that’s not recognized or explained — and it can be awkward to bring it up or to ask. In fact, LinkedIn polled workers and employers and found that 60 percent of people still think there’s a stigma around career breaks.

“It can be difficult for people who are ready to reenter the workforce to explain what they’ve done. The feature offers a place to show how those learnings translate to roles that you’re interested in pursuing,” Han-He told Bustle.

LinkedIn also found that 46 percent of employers think that people coming off of career breaks are untapped talent, and 51 percent said that an explained career break is better than an unexplained one.

“I think it’s quite normal for people — especially women — to feel imposter syndrome,” Han continued. “The key is just to look at everything as an amazing opportunity to learn. As long as I’m finding opportunities to learn from people smarter than me, I count that as a win.”

The heart of the matter is that millions of us have gone through big changes, especially in the last two years. Some of these changes were elected and some were forced — but anyone with a resumé gap, for whatever reason, deserves a chance to get back into the game. Good on LinkedIn for starting to normalize the fact that sometimes life gets in the way of our careers — especially women and moms.