How to Negotiate a Sabbatical

Tips for asking your employer for time to pursue another project.


Marlo Gaal, who hires employees as corporate human resources director for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, says a sabbatical on a resume has the potential to make a candidate more interesting. "It's an upside [for a candidate] because I appreciate the diversity," Gaal says. "To me, [what you learn during a break from the traditional workforce] are transferable skills, and I appreciate people who are non-tradition in their thinking. I think it brings a refreshing and new way of doing things into a team environment."

Having talked with others who returned from sabbaticals, Jung agrees. "What people are telling me is that if they have a challenge, it's more with the recruiter than with the employer," he says.

[See 7 Ways to Make a Difference on the Job.]

If your boss says no, consider a company that does support career breaks. McGuire's company keeps a list on its website. This in itself might not be a good enough reason to look for employment with a certain company, but it certainly sweetens the pot, especially if you know you want a break-filled lifestyle in the long run.

It can't hurt to ask. Some companies simply aren't open to the idea of career breaks, but it can't hurt to propose one, especially if you adhere to the ready-to-quit mentality. If you're going to take this leap anyhow, why not try to get your company on board? It may end up benefiting you and your employer.

Above all else, recognize that taking time to do something productive other than working your day job won't drag your resume down. Instead, it has the potential to take your career to new heights.

"[Seeing a sabbatical on a candidate's resume] is not a deterrent," Gaal says. "It's more of a conversation-starter. But it needs to be time well-spent."