How to secure a fulfilling retirement during a career break

In our always-changing economy and with shifts in how we approach careers over a lifetime, breaks in employment are something many will experience—either by choice or because of life circumstances. Research shows women are more likely than men to experience career gaps—of workers with a work gap of 12 months or more.

While anyone can face a gap in employment due to illness, layoffs, or simply choosing to switch jobs or fields, the fact remains that “women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have their employment affected by caregiver responsibilities.” This includes caregiving for young children as well as for older family members, an increasingly common need in many households. These gaps can lead to lost earnings and potentially decreased accumulated Social Security benefits, ultimately contributing to a persistent wage gap.

Reduce Long-Term Impact of Career Breaks

While there’s no substitute for expert guidance, but there are a few key considerations to help you start your planning:

  • Create a Revised Budget for the Career Break Period: Spend time looking carefully at your financial situation and goals. From here you will want to create a budget tailored to your career gap.
  • Take Stock of Current Retirement Savings and Employment-Based Plans: Based on how long your gap will be, or where you begin working next, you may consider rolling over existing accounts into IRAs or you may have the option of transferring one plan to another employer. A financial professional can review your existing plan and help create a strategy tailored to your needs and your stage in life and career.
  • Explore Part-Time Work or Consulting Opportunities: If possible, explore part-time work or consulting opportunities related to your field. These roles can help you stay connected to your industry, generate additional income, and help mitigate the impact of a career gap on your retirement savings.
  • Leveraging Skills for Freelance Projects or Gig Economy Jobs: Consider tapping into your skills and expertise for freelance or gig economy jobs. Investigate the various online freelance platforms that can offer opportunities to earn income on a flexible schedule.
  • Pursuing Educational Opportunities: Consider investing in your skills and knowledge during your career gap. Online courses and workshops can keep you up to date with industry trends.
  • Enhance Skills to Remain Competitive Upon Re-Entry to the Workforce: Continuously enhance your skills to remain competitive in your field. Attend seminars, workshops, or conferences to stay relevant.
  • Network and Stay Connected to Industry Trends: Maintain your professional network by attending industry events and connecting with peers on social media. Staying informed about industry trends can be invaluable.
  • Seek support: Recognize that career gaps can lead to changes in routine and identity. Look to friends, family, or a counselor to navigate these transitions.
  • Embrace Self-Care and Well-Being During the Break: Prioritize self-care and well-being during your career gap. Remember that prioritizing physical and mental health will help you maintain a positive outlook and provide a foundation for overall well-being. 
  • Updating Your Resume and Online Presence: Before re-entering the workforce, update your resumé and online presence. Highlight any skills or experiences gained during your career break.
  • Reconnect with Professional Contacts and Mentors: Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts to rebuild your professional network and gain insights into job opportunities.

With these strategies and practices, you can make the most of time away from your primary career and feel prepared whenever you are able to return to the workforce. (Depending on your age, for example, you may benefit from catch-up contributions which are allowed for those aged 50 and over.) Careful planning and guidance from experienced financial professional can provide the support you need to manage a career gap and stay on track for your retirement and other financial goals. 

Equitable is the brand name of the retirement and protection subsidiaries of Equitable Holdings, Inc., including Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial) (NY, NY), Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company of America (Equitable America), an AZ stock company, and Equitable Distributors, LLC.  Equitable Advisors is the brand name of Equitable Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI and TN).
GE-6083338.1 (11/2023) (Exp. 11/2025)