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Are you looking to jump back into work after a career gap but don’t know where to begin? If so, opting to apply via a 'returners programme' could be for you.
Your reasons for a career gap might be due to care-giving/family reasons, travel overseas or study. You may even have attempted a return but have met with less than enthusiastic employers. Times are changing however, and driven by a number of factors, companies are now seeing the huge value of returners. They are seeing the significant benefits you bring and welcome you as part of their focus on diversity and inclusion. Companies with returner programmes are now more likely to attract top talent.
This is the theme of an Engineers Ireland workshop event on Thursday, 26th January 2023.
Typically, applicants have been away from the workforce for upwards of two years. People returning to work often find it difficult to secure relevant work. Many experience being perceived as 'being out of touch' due to their gap period.
“Applicants to our programme will have previously worked in a technical or engineering role,” said Mairéad Cummins, senior talent acquisition partner at PM Group. “We value the benefit of hiring an individual who has previous relevant experience. In some instances, a returner can be up to speed in the time it can take to find the ‘perfect candidate'.
"As our programme developed, we learnt not to assume that we know what a returner is looking for. An employer might assume it’s all about part-time but interestingly, 50% of our applicants wanted to work a five-day week. What’s important is having the flexibility to decide what works for you to balance personal and work commitments."
Don’t underestimate the value of any volunteering you may have done while away from the workforce, advises Mairéad. Time and skills developed on school boards, local committees and sports clubs include influencing, team building, negotiating and time management. These skills are essential in the workplace for successful team building and collaboration.
“The length of time our hires have been out of the workforce varies greatly – the longest gap was 17 years and we have joiners who came back to work after two years. PM Group’s Returners Programme is open to everybody with a career gap. However, a high proportion of its returners are female – many have taken time out to have children or care for family members,” says Mairéad.