As a software engineer, is a feasible plan to alternate two years of working with one year of sabbatical? I was thinking about the possibility to change companies each time rather than staying in the same company.

Soon (the next year) I'll get a M.Sc. in Computer Science. For a software enginner is quite easy to get a job, and thus is also easy to switch jobs, but my doubt is if companies, HR departments and managers see this type of alternation as a negative factor, possibly making me a less attractive candidate.

The rationale behind this choice would be the fact that a prolonged pause permits to spend more time studying humanities and professional subject, leading to a greater personal growth as a professional and as a human being.

What's your opinion based on a similar choice made by you or by a colleague of yours, or based on your experience as a hiring manager?

  • 3
    Any answer is going to be just opinion only. – PeteCon Nov 17 '19 at 22:43
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    I think relevant answers can be given. We have for example plenty of people on this Stack who are responsible or heavily involved in the hiring process at IT companies. Their opinion on whether the described approach makes OP a less attractive employee is highly relevant. – fgysin reinstate Monica Nov 18 '19 at 13:12

Employers are going to worry about someone who tells them that they plan to leave after 2 years, but 2 years in your first job followed by a year off isn't a huge red flag, if it was a one-time-thing. Doing it repeatedly would be, unless you're only apply for short contracts.

If you're not fixed to a 2 year schedule, there are times when you'll get a chance for a career break due to a company going bust or making redundancies. Then taking a year off to do something interesting could be considered a bonus by your next employer. The hard part here is having enough money saved to afford it.

If you plan to study (rather than travel), you would be better off working part time - it's far more tax efficient to stay out of the higher tax bands by not working a full year. Many companies will offer an '80%' job, where you get paid the same hourly rate for 80% of the hours.


As a software engineer, is a feasible plan to alternate two years of working with one year of sabbatical?

I imagine it's possible to find a company that wouldn't need you around for a year at a time every third year. I personally don't know of any, though.

In your comment you seem to now indicate that you would work for a company for two years, then quit to take a year off. And apparently you would do this repeatedly. Most hiring managers I know of wouldn't look favorably on this. I don't know anyone who hires permanent workers anticipating that they will leave after 2 years.

You might consider being a contractor instead. That way, you can work as much as you like and take off as much time as you like. I know plenty of good contractors who do this (although most don't start this much time off until they have a fair bit of experience). I suspect this route is far more likely to give you the time studying humanities and professional subjects you desire.

Either way, make sure you ask about this possibility up front. It's far less likely that you could convince an employer to go along with this after being hired unless it was agreed to up front.

  • I was thinking more about the possibility to change company rather than staying in the same company. – mark247m Nov 17 '19 at 23:18

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