Originally Posted by EagleEye
The question is: how big of a deal is it? So let's say -- on a scale from one to ten of career injury -- that time off to serve a prison sentence for murdering your last boss counts as a 10 (i.e., career-ending move). Time off to serve in the armed forces counts or to recover from a life-threatening illness counts as a zero (i.e., no harm to career or even a plus). Given that scale, how would you score my sabbatical idea? (To recap, this would be a 6-12 month period, and I would use it in part to do some writing (legal and non-legal) for publication and to address some health issues. Obviously, there is a big "rest and refocus" component to it as well.)
6 month gap can be no problem at all -- 0 -- especially if you get to the interview stage. It can be explained through a variety of methods. Best is usually something like "After working for 10 years with nearly no vacation, I finally took a quick break to recharge my batteries, so I can come back refreshed and be even more productive. As much as I enjoyed the break, I find that I really prefer the work schedule." This can also be part of a cover letter.
1 Year, is probably an 8. May suggest lack of direction, possibly a whole host of other issues, and high likelihood of being a flake (even though we know this would be unjustified in your case).
But, if you would do writing in any field that can be even remotely linked into your current career, it would not be considered a sabbatical at all, so it's back to a rating of 0. You could even position the time as a brief period in which you did research into specific topics that you wrote about, and could be used to the advantage of the next employer. Or some thing like that...
I would try to stay away from the term sabbatical, and if possible not mention health issues. It could translate into the employer thinking that you'd require extra sick-time or push up the group insurance rates if it's a small firm.