Hiring Returners to Work – The Pros & Cons

Gaps in employment history are often considered a negative point on an applicant’s CV. However, there are many reasons for taking an extended break from work. And, being open to interviewing returners isn’t necessarily a risky strategy. If your business is hiring, returners to work may offer the skills and experience needed to fill a vacancy.

Reasons for an Extended Career Break

Raising a Family

The most common reason for an extended career break is to raise a family. For many parents, statutory maternity or paternity leave isn’t enough. They want more involvement in their child’s upbringing. Add childcare costs into the equation and it isn’t always financially viable to work and raise a young family.

Care Responsibilities

With an ageing population, many people also have care responsibilities for parents and other older relatives. Again, fitting these in around work can be a challenge. For some people, it is easier to take a year or two off to prioritise family.

Life Opportunities

Life is short and some people take a career break to follow other dreams and pursuits. Travelling the world or spending time experiencing life in a difficult country is on many people’s wish lists. Some decide to make that wish a reality. Others choose to focus on studying or renovating a property.

Prioritising Health

Being diagnosed with a serious health condition can make it difficult to keep working. Being available to attend appointments and giving yourself a chance to fully recover may be a greater priority. After all, health is an essential asset in life.

Is Hiring Returners to Work Risky?

Following a career break, it can be difficult to get back into the workplace. Employers seem to believe that it is risky to consider candidates who don’t have a continuous employment history. Their skills will be rusty and their knowledge out of date. Yet those who have followed alternative paths have had to develop and apply many skills.

If you think about it, a parent has to learn many skills that are desired of leaders. They include resolving issues, encouraging and nurturing others, decision-making, negotiation, communication skills and keeping everyone on task. You can also add in budgeting, planning, time management and adaptability. These transferable skills may be exactly what your business needs of its newest recruits.

Some returners held top positions and excelled in their field before giving up work. Having recovered from a health condition or spent time caring for parents, it won’t take much to bring them up to speed. They could provide the talent you need to drive business success.

Equally, someone who has taken time out to pursue other priorities is likely to be more settled when they do return to work. They know their life decisions make it harder to get a job. So, they may appreciate opportunities more than other candidates and this can result in greater loyalty.

How to Encourage Applications From Returners to Work

If you see the potential, make it clear that you are open to hiring returners to work in job adverts. This simple step can give individuals the confidence to give it a go.

Also, promote flexible working opportunities, which all employees now have a right to request. When Zurich Insurance* trialled advertising all positions as part-time, it resulted in more applicants from women and a greater gender balance across the workforce. So, are you prepared to be a more inclusive employer?

Put in place an induction programme that includes training and mentoring to help bring skills up to speed. The more you invest in an individual in their first weeks in a new role, the sooner they will be equipped to work independently.

How To Prepare If You Are Returning to Work

If you’re returning after an extended career break, the greatest challenge can be rebuilding your confidence. I recommend that you:

  • Research the current requirements and developments in your chosen industry
  • Undertake online courses, training or volunteer opportunities to update your skills & knowledge
  • Understand the transferable skills you’ve gained and how to present these to employers in interviews
  • Attend local networking groups to regain experience in business conversations and make contacts
  • Update your CV to showcase your strengths

If you find the process a little overwhelming, it can be helpful to have employment support to guide you back into the world of work. Our candidate services are designed to equip you to take the next steps in your career.

Pros & Cons of Hiring Returners to Work

If you’ve previously considered employment gaps as a barrier to recruitment, I hope this article has helped you to see things from a fresh angle. Career breaks occur for many reasons and returners to work could provide the skills and experience you need. Rather than a risky strategy, this could be the way to attract talent and fill skill gaps.

* https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-field-trial-with-zurich-insurance-to-advertise-all-jobs-as-part-time/changing-the-default-a-field-trial-with-zurich-insurance-to-advertise-all-jobs-as-part-time

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