Returnships Help Companies Access Untapped Talent

It’s a common story that most of us are familiar with. A spouse, friend, or sibling takes a career break to raise their children or to help an ailing parent or family member. Sometimes the break is a few months, sometimes years. But now this experienced professional, often a woman, wants to return to the workforce. Her skills are a bit rusty, her LinkedIn profile is out-of-date, she hasn’t spoken to past colleagues since she left her job, and she doesn’t have anything close to a current resume.

How does she go about reviving her once-thriving career?

In the past, there were few resources for “Returners”. They were often left to fend for themselves, going up against well-established candidates when applying for jobs they knew they could do. But the gap in their work history was like a black mark that kept them from even being considered. Many Returners with professional experience still struggle with this problem, unaware that there is a path to return at many companies.

The solution is the creation of Returnships, which are formal return-to-work programs adapted from traditional company internships.

Resourceful organizations have started to put programs in place to attract and hire this career-ready, overlooked talent pool. They recognize the amazing opportunity to not only support returning workers but to also tap into a traditionally overlooked talent pool. Hiring returners also has a positive impact on a company’s culture and bottom line as well as strengthens a company’s brand.

(Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing a Successful Returnship Program)

What is a Returnship Program?

Basically, they are high-level internships that are professionally paid and can last anywhere between 10 weeks and 6 months. The programs are designed to help experienced professionals who have taken a career break get back into roles equal to their experience. Once the Returnship period is successfully completed, the company often extends an offer to the Returner for a full-time role.

What about the Returners?

Returnship programs provide a tremendous benefit for returners. They are a structured program that allows them to reacquaint themselves with the workplace while sharpening and developing skills, including soft skills. The experience helps career-ready professionals overcome their resume gaps and build much needed confidence. The cohort model typical of returnships also helps returners develop critical networks with peers and mentors that are crucial to their success.

Employers benefit even more by tapping into a talent pool of highly-skilled, experienced, and loyal workers they could never have reached through traditional recruiting efforts.

Returnship programs have been shown to create a positive work culture that increases engagement and workforce retention across the organization while elevating the employer brand. These programs also reduce the loss of talent due to caregiving and can be the catalyst to accelerate more women directly into leadership roles.