Game Changers 2020 Essay Series: Tech Companies are Hiring 85% of ”40-year-old Interns”

Tech Companies are Hiring 85% of ”40-year-old Interns”

Carol Fishman Cohen, Chair and Co-founder, iRelaunch

When I think about “a technology innovation that specifically and demonstrably improves people’s  lives for the better,” I immediately jump to the value of technology-based companies innovating their recruiting strategies to include non-traditional candidates of all kinds. We have been working closely with global employers on return to work programs for technical professionals since 2015, and with employer programs for professionals of all kinds since 2007.

TheSTEM Re-entry Task Force that we co-lead with the Society of Women Engineers now involves 23 blue chip companies, each piloting a return to work program for returning technical professionals. We meet with them monthly to provide subject matter expertise and guidance as they build their programs.

Many have gone on to expand their programs domestically, internationally, across business lines, and into a range of functional areas, both technical and non-technical.

What is remarkable about these programs is the consistent and stellar hiring results they have produced. On a weighted average basis, 85 percent of the more than 325  participants in member company programs have been hired.

The Task Force model is based on the concept that each company establishes its own return to work program, setting key parameters of time of year, length of program, number of participants, geographies, and ultimately, expansion plans unique to that company’s needs and goals.

The results we have seen in our tech company partner programs mirror the results we have seen historically with the longer running programs of our Wall Street return to work corporate partners.

The “relaunchers,” or returning professionals, that companies engage with through these programs, have solid work experience before taking a multi-year career break and now want to return to the workforce. Most of these programs involve a paid, mid-career internship, which allows companies to have a testing out period to evaluate the relauncher before making the hiring decision. The relauncher evaluates their readiness for returning to work and whether the company environment is a good match. This testing out period reduces any perceived risk a company may attach to hiring those who have been on career break and now want to return. After companies get comfortable using an internship-like experience to engage with relaunchers, our vision is that companies expand eligibility for  these programs to a range of non-traditional professionals – repatriating ex-pats, “un-retiring” retirees, and transitioning military spouses and veterans. We are already starting to see this happen.

In today’s full-employment economy, and even in labor markets that are not as tight, the relauncher pool cannot be overlooked by employers seeking top talent. Relaunchers are educated, have great work experience, a mature perspective, and an energy and enthusiasm about returning to work precisely because they have been away from work for a while. They are chomping at the bit to return. I know I was, when I was in year nine of my eleven-year career break. I returned to an investment firm as a financial analyst after time at home with my children before writing Back on the Career Track and co-founding iRelaunch. High performers don’t stop being high performers simply because they take a career break.

May 31, 2019