I recently quit my job to deal with burnout. I am in a field where people with my skill set are in great demand, so I am often contacted by recruiters or job offers, whom I fend of with a polite declination such as "I am currently focusing on personal projects, feel free to contact me at a later date".
I hope to return to one day recover and return to the field, but for the moment I am mostly goofing around, to be honest.
How would I address the issue of a voluntary gap in my work history? From what I see, I have these options:
- Tell them I've been working on personal projects. I imagine this will lead them wondering why I am now abandoning those projects, considering I quit my job to focus on them, and would maybe even like to see what I made. I have several minor pet projects, but none substantial enough to explain my absence from the general job market.
Tell them I wanted to reeducate myself. I am in a field where many people (myself included) are autodidact – but it sounds rather extreme to quit your job to do so. Even if I will spend some time learning, I don't think they will buy it as a main reason.
Tell them straight up about the burnout. I fear this will lead to follow-up questions about the cause, which might be hard to answer. Or perhaps they won't ask, and simply assume it is caused by me being stressed out due to my own incompetence in my former role or lack of adaptability or flexibility.
Quitting a job without taking a new one is probably considered an erratic move, and I don't want to give them the impression that I am mentally unstable, incompetent, lack drive or ambitions or am likely to /ragequit. But it might also look very fishy that I have no personal projects or other work to present.
I have created some points to flesh out my specific situation, however to benefit future visitors, try to make your answers general.
- I had been working for three years with my last employer. The first two was ecstatic, the last year was absolutely miserable.
- I had tried mediating with management and HR. Explaining why I was unhappy, asking for reduced hours, working from home etc. I didn't just ragequit.
- I fear that if I stayed there any longer, I would permanently lose passion for the job. Thus I felt time off was needed to recharge and formulate new goals.
- I live a spartan life and can afford an extended hiatus.
- I say I'm just "goofing around", but that's not exactly true. I have freelance projects and personal projects. I just don't put in regular hours and my personal projects have little "market value" (I do them to learn and have fun, not to make money).