At first glance this appears to be a variation on the popular question, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it does it make a sound?” I mean some people would ask how you can go on a vacation if you don’t have a job to take a vacation from?!
Well there are two ways of looking at this question. The first is that a vacation is part of most people’s normal yearly routine where people rejuvenate and re-energize and spend quality time with family, friends or possibly just enjoy some solitude. Why wouldn’t everyone want and deserve that whether they have a job or not? Why should a job be tied to vacation?
The other way of answering this question however is looking at someone in the middle of a job search who is currently unemployed who announces that they are taking time off from the job search to kick back and relax. Well, if you were a colleague or friend of this person who had previously been asked to keep an eye out for job opportunities for them, you might lose your own motivation to continue to do so. After all, if the job seeker isn’t working at getting a job and is lazing around poolside, why should you be working hard on their behalf?
In my opinion, the balance between the two is this; everyone does deserve to take a physical and mental break in life, and job searching can be very stressful, intense and pressure filled just like employment. However, at the same time, if you have others committed to helping you in your job search, you have a responsibility to them to take the break without fanfare and to have a way to remain in touch. This is the difference between the vacation for the employed and the unemployed.
The employed have vacations and can do whatever they want for the extent of their vacation because they are responsible to no one else, except being back and ready to go on the day after their vacation ends. The unemployed job seeker has an ongoing responsibility to take shorter spaced-out breaks that are taken in such a way that those assisting in a job search are still responded to if a job lead develops, and unfortunately, the job seeker on vacation should stay somewhat available for interviews and employment postings. I know of at least one person who went camping for a week and packed his interview clothes.
A colleague of mine who had a job lead for a client was irked one day to find out the client was vacationing on a road trip and hadn’t advised him to put the job search on hold for two weeks. He had tried unsuccessfully to make contact over four days, and then heard through a mutual contact of the vacation. Not only did he pass on the lead to someone else who eventually got the job, he lost some motivation to help which was unfortunate. He felt uninformed and somewhat deceived. Right or wrong, that was the feeling he was left with.
On a more local level, suppose you have been job hunting intensively and take one afternoon off to suntan at a local park and have a picnic lunch. Should you be concerned you might be seen as goofing off? Everybody has a right to relax and take in some sunshine. Be aware however, that you cannot control how other people will or may react to such a simple act if they are under the impression you are job searching seriously and intently. You could have your eyes closed and they walk right by and say nothing. If the word spreads, that could be damaging and so unfair!
Take your breaks from job searching in moderation. Breaks from any intense activity, including looking for a job, are part of a normal routine, and keeping a normal routine is what those who provide job searching advice usually advise!