“Exactly what is a sabbatical and how can I get myself one of those?” I hear you ask – and if you weren’t asking before – you probably are now…
Put simply, a sabbatical is an agreed, and unless you’re very lucky, usually unpaid, amount of time away from work.
If you manage to secure a sabbatical, it means that you are still technically employed by the company you work for, but are just enjoying a ‘career break’, giving you the opportunity to enjoy those experiences you’ve been dreaming about at your desk for the past few months or years.
I’m not going to lie, they aren’t necessarily easy to secure. Not all companies offer them, but some do, and if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to take advantage of unpaid (or paid) leave, you should grab it with both hands.
Here is a 5 step plan to making that happen.
How to Secure Your Sabbatical From Work
Do Some Research
Think about what you want to get out of these next few months and prepare to put that across when you ask for your time off.
Whether you want to spend your time partying in South East Asia, or helping with conservation on the Galapagos Islands, you’re going to be asked what you’re planning on doing with those months you’re away so be prepared.
Hatch A Plan
Just because the company you work for offers sabbaticals to staff, it doesn’t mean they will agree to it easily. It often depends on the role you hold there and can even come down to how accommodating your manager is willing to be.
If the company you work for doesn’t have a policy on sabbaticals then it’s down to you to convince them it’s a good idea.
Here’s some things to think about:
Why is it good for me personally?
Why do you feel you want/need to do this? Is travelling something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet? Show some passion for the experience you are taking a break to have.
Why is it good for me professionally?
How will this benefit you once you’re back to work? Will it make you more focused in the long term now this experience is ‘out of your system’. Also remind them of what a valuable employee you are, shout about your skills and show them why they’d be silly to let you go in the long term for the sake of denying you the sabbatical you deserve.
Why is it good for the business?
Well the biggie is that they’ll save money by not having to pay you. Also, if you spend your time learning a language or gaining a qualification such as TEFL they could benefit from this learning without having to pay for it. And then there’s the fact that they’ll be getting someone back who feel refreshed, remotivated and excited to be in work (that last bit may or may not be true but it sounds good on an application!)
Give Plenty of Notice
You have much more chance of securing your sabbatical if you can give a decent amount of notice.
A panicked boss may end up being a unaccommodating boss, so try to give as much notice as possible between the time you approach the subject with them and the time you want to go.
It would also be a good idea to offer suggestions on how your role could be covered during the time you’re away.
Ideas could include; hiring a paid/or unpaid intern, dividing up your work between the rest of your department, or offering a secondment to someone in another department. The easier you make it on them the better for your chances!
Get it in Writing
If you’re celebrating the success of your application just remember to get it in writing – sign something that states how long you have been given off, when you are expected to be back in your old job.
It’s unlikely anything bad is going to happen while you’re away but you need those assurances that your job is going to be waiting for you when you return – its part of the deal.
So that’s that, you’ve hopefully been granted the time you want so all that’s left to do is start planning!
Use your time wisely and make the most of every minute, there are some incredible adventures out there.
Whether you want a full on round the world adventure or are looking to spend time volunteering with children in deepest Africa make sure you check out the huge number of inspiring opportunities just waiting to be explored.