by | Sep 16, 2021

Need to fill positions with experienced talent? Don’t overlook the huge pool of professionals who are eager to rejoin the workforce after a career break. Since February of 2020, 1.79 million women and 1.75 million men have quit work, often for reasons related to the pandemic, like being home with kids attending school online. But this isn’t a pandemic-specific trend. Over 75% of American Millennials expect to take career breaks at some point in their professional lives.


This paints a larger picture than the proverbial mommy track, although many companies in need of STEM talent and management-level women have recruited female professionals who are returning to the workforce after a career break for raising their kids. According to Carol Fishman Cohen, writing in this month’s Harvard Business Review, “Facebook, IBM, Oracle, Apple and other tech giants” have recruiting and retraining programs in place to target this technology talent.

While many employers are concerned about the Great Resignation, others are heavily engaged in building relaunch programs for the highly educated and experienced professionals who’re ready to return to work after a gap in their resumes. According to Cohen, whose company iRelaunch provides consulting services for company back-to-work programs, the long list of companies with formal programs to hire talent after a career break includes Amazon, Ford, Deloitte, Accenture, UBS, Goldman Sachs, and Sara Lee, less than 10% of Fortune 500 companies have a formal program.


Even if candidates returning after a career break haven’t worked in a while (many corporate programs specify breaks of 3-8 years), they still come equipped with the social and organizational skills it takes to get things done in a corporate environment. They very likely have already learned to work with different personality types, to make presentations, to deal with the pressure of deadlines. Those sorts of skills are much harder to pick up than learning how to use Teams, or how to send a Zoom invite. Think about the difference in teaching a someone the soft skills of working successfully within a department or between departments and the basic how-to’s of technology. Most corporate back-to-work programs include training in technology and other areas.


Another advantage of this post-career break talent pool is that many are eager to be part of a company again, to engage in the culture, make connections and build relationships. They’re excited about getting back to work, and may even be more grateful for a job than someone with no gaps in their resume. We haven’t seen research on this, but my bet is that they’re likely to have high levels of employee engagement.

For more on post-pandemic priorities for job candidates, you might like this Best Practices one pager. For thoughts on onboarding hybrid employees, see this Best Practices one pager.

Interested in attracting experienced talent ready to return from a career break? Tribe can help.

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