Taking a career break is no longer a taboo. Today, an increasing number of companies are widening their lenses while evaluating a candidate based on their career breaks. In place of sliding away their applications, now companies are giving due attention to these candidates. As a result, they are increasingly accepting career breaks as a norm.

For instance, IBM broke the hiring glass ceiling by recruiting Jill Burns through their tech re-entry program, after her 10-year long break. They gave her all the required resources and support to integrate back into the current workforce and proved that a career break can no longer be put forth as an excuse to impede anyone’s career growth.

Moreover, returnship program is not only about allowing returning people into the workforce. It is also about maximizing an organization’s potential by recruiting qualified and talented individuals. A win-win platform for both.

However, when companies were asked about their returnship program, 41% said they haven’t even evaluated this option. Startling as it seems, it’s not a new revelation. Shattering the career break stereotype will take its due time and in the meanwhile, new companies will start evaluating returnship programs as a promising option. If you also lie in the above 41% bracket, it’s high time to start considering and building a returnship program for your organization.

Returnship Stats

What is a Returnship Program?

It is a paid internship program designed for people who aspire to rejoin the workforce after a career break. Some of the major responsibilities of a returnship program are to,

  1. Provide project and work training
  2. Polish existing skills
  3. Reacquaint with ongoing trends and practices
  4. Bridge the knowledge gap as per the work requirements
  5. Provide mentorship

Typically, these programs last from a few weeks to months depending on the skill and industry. Based on skill assessment, organizations further absorb these candidates into their workforce. On average, companies hire 75% of these candidates at the end of the returnship programs.

Returnship Offer Stats

Tips to Build a Returnship Program

1.   Function in Small Cohorts

Cramming 40-50 people in a room is not the best option in a returnship program. Volunteers in these programs demand individual attention and therefore, an ideal approach is to function in small cohorts of 10-15 to ensure the purpose of the program is achieved. Small groups also instill confidence in the members to raise their hands and ask questions which in larger groups is a dreadful task.

2. Reacquaint Candidates with Current & Future Trends

Chances are candidates in your program might feel outdated with the current work and tech trends. Therefore, you must brush their existing knowledge with the prevalent trends and help them understand what the future holds. Also, introduce new fields of growth that might eclipse the existing trends in the future. Candidates can draw on this knowledge to pick a new skill or change their existing working area to remain relevant to future trends.

3. Pair Candidates with Mentors

Allot a dedicated mentor to every individual.

Mentors help seamlessly navigate the workplace and get to the speed by providing on-ground help in understanding and implementing the work. Apart from skill training, they also acquaint candidates with ongoing guidelines, culture, and practices. This one-on-one assistance greatly streamlines the transition process for the returning workers.

4. Partner with Academic Institutes

Apart from on-the-job training, returnship programs provide candidates additional training to mend the confidence gap that might affect their performance. You can partner with institutes that master these skills to train the candidates better for the job.

These additional training come quite handy when the job demands candidates to remain on client calls or have frequent communication with internal and external teams. Public speaking, personality development, call handling, language training, or MS office expertise – are few of the skills that will underpin the candidate’s performance in their jobs.

Read More: How to Create a Robust Upskilling Strategy in 5 Easy Steps?

5. Inspire Members with Network

When Jill Burns, an IBM returnship program volunteer, was asked about the most valuable benefit of her re-entry program, she replied “time spent in networking”.

Networking inspires people to go beyond their capabilities and gives them the zeal to tackle such career breaks head-on. It allows people to bond with others with the same experiences and become part of a larger journey. Returning workforce will feel accepted as well as motivated to leap their career journeys when they are actively participating in meetings, discussions, and networking. Connecting with people who have the same career journey is a great catalyst in addressing the inhibitions of the returning workforce.

Therefore, you must ensure to facilitate networking events as part of your returnship program where volunteers of the last batches or people with returnship experience can voice their stories to motivate and inspire the new returning cohort.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cloudflare, UniversalGiving, Goldman Sachs, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Credit Suisse, IBM, Accenture, and GTB are few of the big names currently leading the running returnship program arena.

Company Offering Returnship

Summing It Up

Today, tapping into the quality talent is of paramount importance. Ticking off biases one by one, companies are marching forward to show that people are at the heart of their business and they are ready to challenge the status quo to ensure more and more quality hires get the opportunity they deserve. And returnship program is one such solution to ensure no talent is left untapped.


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