Taking a break from working is not a new concept. According to a study by the Center for Talent Innovation, 31% of women leave their jobs for an average of nearly three years, mostly to care for their children. Researchers call this an “off-ramp,” or stepping off the career fast track.
However, a key finding is that about 90 percent of women who left their jobs wanted to relaunch their careers – or “on-ramp” back at some point later. And most organizations are not particularly astute at what to do with these candidates that have a hole of sorts in the timeline of their professional experience.
Roughly three million stay-at-home mothers struggle to break back into the job market following an off-ramp, and only 40 percent end up finding full-time positions.
Thankfully, some initiatives and tools are helping women to relaunch their careers and stay connected while working remotely. Also, modern collaboration platforms, such as video, are helping companies expand their talent pool search while saving time in the recruiting process.
One popular initiative, PowerToFly, matches relaunchers with tech jobs.
“We wanted to have babies, and we wanted to keep our careers…As we built this thing over the last 22 months, we realized the problem extends beyond just mothers.” – Katharine Zaleski, Co-Founder, and President.
Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of iRelaunch agrees, saying “the ‘relauncher’ demographic is broadening to include men who have taken leave to provide childcare, in addition to both women and men who have taken career breaks for reasons that have nothing to do with childcare: eldercare, pursuing a personal interest, or a personal health issue.”
Many of the positions at PowerToFly are remote, but that does not mean they are part time or less vital than in-office positions, stresses Zaleski. The key to making remote work successful is technology, more specifically video collaboration tools.
According to Gallup, nearly 37% of U.S. workers telecommute for their job, and by the year 2020, this number is expected to be at 50%.
People no longer need to be physically together to get work done. They can collaborate face-to-face regardless of location using tools they are already familiar with, such as Skype for Business, smartphones, or desktop applications that provide a quality video connection feed. And the use of collaboration technology can enable a better workplace flexibility program, which could prevent women from off-ramping in the first place.
The most forward-thinking organizations are capitalizing on the fact that since relaunchers aren’t coming from another company, they can typically be more flexible in how they re-enter the workforce. IBM, GM, Booz Allen Hamilton, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and others have all launched paid internship programs for “mid-career” candidates. Both sides get to try each other out to make sure it’s a good fit. The response has been exceptional with GM seeing over 300 applicants for ten slots.
As Tami Forman, executive director of Path Forward puts it, “The opportunity for companies to tap into this pool of talent is really incredible.”
This expanded talent pool can be particularly interesting for hiring managers in the fields of STEM. Not only is PowerToFly a valuable job-hunting resource for women, but it is also a valuable corporate “productivity tool for people who want to hire more women in tech,” says Zaleski. “We’re trying to eliminate every excuse out there to not hire women in tech. One of the excuses is I can’t find them.” No more.
HR professionals within enterprises can leverage video conferencing to expand their talent pool search, and reduce the time to recruit and hire the best-fit talent globally.
For example, enterprise-grade, web-based video conferencing tools can be integrated into applicant tracking systems (ATS) like IBM®/Kenexa® BrassRing. Organizations that have implemented this type of integration can schedule interviews, record and archive video conversations, add text comments, and inform all parties involved in the hiring decision process.
Ultimately, the use of this tool has made the search, application, vetting and interview process far easier for recruiters seeking talent globally. CareerBuilder reports that on average, employers conduct three phone interviews and three in-person interviews for an open position.
The process to schedule, travel and physically meet for each in-person interview is a huge drain on everyone’s most scarce resource: time. This is why many recruiters and HR professionals leverage video conferencing as a valuable platform to interview candidates face-to-face without traveling or sacrificing the more intangible evaluations like cultural “fit.”
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NPC) is an example of a company that has capitalized with the use of video to save time in hiring quality talent.
“We were experiencing a significant increase in hiring volumes and needed a new approach that would help us to expedite the process, ease the time impact on hiring managers, reduce cost and improve the candidate experience…That’s why we decided to pilot video interviewing…We have had some impressive results. In the past year, 2,700 video interviews have taken place with a cost-avoidance savings of $475,000 and a reduction in manager interview travel by 220 trips.” – Teresa Laggini Sankner, head of talent management, organizational development and talent acquisition for NPC.
The vast majority of people who leave the workplace for an extended period will eventually want to relaunch their career. The savviest HR teams will pair technology like video conferencing with re-entry programs to tap into this pool of talent that is highly-motivated, intelligent, and eager to get back to work.