How do you explain long breaks from work?

Hey y’all.

I’m on month 13 of a long hiatus from work. My history is 9 months at my last gig, 2 years of part time teaching while working on a masters, 1 year, and then 7 years at my first gig.

At my last job I got really really really ill from a preexisting mental health condition and really undue work stress… You could also call it severe severe burnout. It’s taken me this long to get my desire to write code back even a little bit.

So I guess my question… if it takes another 6 months to really feel ready to start applying (a total of like 18 months away)… where I’m doing my own projects, going to the gym, doing martial arts, meditating… how do you explain that on a resume?

Can I just put 18 month sabbatical and get away with it? I certainly don’t want to out myself on the mental health front, so it’s kind of hard to explain whats going on. Thankfully I have other income so I’m not starving.

What do you all think, how should I put an 18 month gap on my resume and linkedin? Or should I just not worry about it… like if I list an 18 month sabbatical with some wellness improvements, travel, and a few side projects, any company that would reject me based on that I wouldn’t want to work for?

A couple of different ways I can see approaching this:

  • list a Sabbatical and detail anything at all during that time that was code-related. I wouldn’t detail anything more than “personal development” for the non-code portion.
  • If the projects were for clients, definitely list those. Or if you can get a few gigs between now and when the job hunting starts, do those and then you can you can say you worked on freelance projects.

I’ve done a lot of freelance work for the first half of my career. What I’ve done and seen other people do is list all of those date ranges together as freelance work and then hit a few highlight projects. There was also three months in there where I was trying to become a missionary… nobody’s ever really asked me about it.

Hope some of this helps!