April 21, 2021

Unpaid sabbatical- what are your thoughts?

Planned to use an alt for this to avoid doxxing, but new account couldn’t post. Oh well. Curious what you all think on this subject- would the risk of quitting a job to work on myself and have a gap on my resume potentially be worth it, or would it look worse from a hiring manager’s perspective to quit my job after 6 months?

I’m a team leader for a cybersecurity team, and getting burnt out in my current role. I’ve been a cybersecurity analyst/engineer for a few years (sysadmin before that), and was recently recruited to a team to be an analyst. Before starting, however, the position was changed to a leadership role due to the previous team lead’s departure (hiring process took a few months for background investigation).

Under normal circumstances that would be fine, but in this particular shop it means more time doing management and meetings than actual work. The recruiter never passed along to me that this change in scope would be happening, so it was a bit of a shock on day one. I have absolutely no interest in being a manager. I don’t care to do performance reviews, contract reviews, or the multitude of senior meetings that my life has become. If they’d communicated this to me prior to starting I would have absolutely backed out, but instead the position was re-written without notification.

I’ve been wanting to switch over to pentesting for a while. I have some SANS certs and do CTFs, but I’m thinking about quitting my job to take a few months to just work on my skills. I’d like to get my OSCP and build-up a few of the python scripts I’ve been working on in my free time and publish them to github, as well as just take time to pursue some unrelated hobbies. Financially I’m in good shape and can afford to not work for a while, plus my spouse makes good enough money to support us both if need be.

Am I shooting myself in the foot? I’ve been struggling to make the time to develop the pentesting skills, and am just too tired after work to put any meaningful time into it. I’ve got experience with pentesting, just not as my full-time primary responsibility so I’d need to do a bit more preparation to be ready to jump into a role. A few months of treating study as my job could go a long way, but I’m curious what this looks like from the hiring manager side of the table. I’m getting burnt out, and am getting into that mindset where I dread going to work.

I’d consider taking an in-place demotion if that were an option (since that’s effectively what I was trying to do in the first place), but due to staffing constraints we wouldn’t be able to make this happen unless somebody else on my team quit or were fired.

Have any of you been in this position or done this? Did the gap in employment make an impact on your ability to re-enter the workforce or pivot to a new role? Thanks for any feedback.



>would the risk of quitting a job to work on myself and have a gap on my resume potentially be worth it, or would it look worse from a hiring manager’s perspective to quit my job after 6 months?

This is something I’ve only ever heard be an issue from boomers, and I’m not saying that in a Millenial/GenZ generational strife type of thing. It’s in the same vein of older folks saying “Walk in, demand to speak to the manager, and shake his hand” as a way to get a job in the modern era. It certainly was a thing decades ago but not so much today.

I’ve had a 6 month gap in my work experience, and throughout my 8 year career have never worked in a place longer than 18 months. Lay offs, re-orgs, or just finding a higher paying job doing the same thing.

Has literally never come up once. I’ve been in the hiring process for dozens of people throughout my career. None of us cared about gaps or short tenure, except for the one or two dudes in their 60’s. If they checked all the experience and credential boxes, did well in technical interviews, and didn’t seem like an ass that would clash with the existing team; then they were solid.

Maybe in hyper-competitive jobs like Google something like that matters, and maybe it matters in other industries, but for tech roles I don’t think it matters.


Would this be the only gap or do you already have other gaps or short tenures (< 20 months) on your resume? If there is only one or two gaps or short tenures, it’s no big deal. I have seen otherwise good candidates get passed on if their resume is full of mostly gaps or short engagements, since that indicates a pattern.

If you really want to go that route, I’d recommend filing a fictitious business name in your county and just call yourself an “independent contractor” while you’re learning. then you can pick up some small jobs on the side if you want and there’s no gaps at all.

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