Searching for a new job can be a daunting task, especially for someone who hasn't worked in recent years. Career returnship programs can be helpful for people ready to reenter the workforce. Our recent survey of 1,000 unemployed Americans reveals tips for businesses looking to create returnship programs and for job seekers trying to return to the workforce after a long absence.
67% of unemployed Americans don't know what a returnship is.
The beginning of the survey focused on people's awareness of returnships (programs that help experienced professionals return to the workforce after an extended career break) and why they might like to apply for one.
Finances were a primary concern among those who took the survey. A returnship would have to be a paid program in order to appeal to 76% of them. And 68% said they'd apply for a returnship to have their own income and be able to pay their bills and living expenses. When asked if they would accept an unpaid returnship, only 7% said they could afford it.
Many people leave the workforce due to parenthood responsibilities, but some eventually want or need a job outside the home. That's likely why 1 in 4 moms said they're considering rejoining the workforce through a returnship program. But of the parents caring for minors, 42% said child care cost was the main barrier preventing them from returning to work.
Among all respondents, 33% were concerned about the pay and benefits of returnship programs. But while finances were the top issue, money wasn't the only thing that had people worried about pursuing a returnship; fear also played a critical role in the decision-making process. These were the top fears respondents shared:
Confidence was also an issue for some, with 14% citing imposter syndrome as what's holding them back. All these issues point to the importance of finding a workplace and program that's a good fit.
Next, we asked where people would search for returnship programs and what type of working arrangement they'd want most.
Most people would prefer to work from home these days, and our respondents were no exception. Only 9% said they'd want an entirely on-site job, compared to the 59% who preferred a remote position and 31% who said they'd opt for a hybrid arrangement. Most of the respondents preferring a hybrid returnship were parents of minors. This group was less interested in a fully remote arrangement, indicating these parents might prefer to spend some time on-site.
Technology, digital marketing, and health care ranked as the top three industries that would most appeal to those looking for returnship programs. Other common choices were:
One way potential applicants look for a career in one of these segments is by checking online job search platforms.
Most respondents said they would search Indeed for a returnship program, and over half would use LinkedIn. ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor were the top choices among 27% of those we surveyed, while 15% said it would be CareerBuilder. If you're considering where to find job applicants interested in a returnship, any or all of these choices would be a solid bet.
A primary goal of returnship programs is to raise people's confidence as they reenter the workforce. Here's how a returnship might impact their mental health and belief in themselves.
When asked if a returnship program could raise their confidence in their abilities, only 3% answered with a definite "no". Instead, nearly all of our study participants (94%) believed a returnship would positively affect their mental health. Most were parents with minors; they were 18% more likely to express this than any other group.
Returnships can be a valuable resource for individuals who have taken a career break and are looking to reenter the workforce. Although many Americans are unfamiliar with these programs, a large number would consider one under the right circumstances. Financial concerns, flexibility, upskilling, and mentorship are crucial factors affecting a returnship program's appeal.
Companies that assure returnship applicants that they'll be supported in these ways may find the most success. Pointing out that their confidence and career success are important to you could be a great way to get their attention and gain their trust.
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For this campaign, we surveyed 1,013 unemployed Americans with a career gap of at least two years. Among them, 59% were women, 38% were men, and 2 chose not to say. Regarding their parental status, 51% of the people surveyed did not have children, 29% were parents who had children under 18 years old, and 20% were parents who had of children over 18 years old.
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