Still a relatively recent concept, first coined by Goldman Sachs in 2008, returnships are effectively internship programmes for experienced professionals who have taken a career break and are looking to return to the workforce. Typically returnship programmes offer paid employment for 3-6 months.
Often these professionals are women who have taken a career break to raise children or care for family members. Other potential returnships candidates would be veterans or returning retirees. These are groups of people that can face significant challenges in the recruitment market and for whom the benefits of a returnship programme are clear. It offers them a mid-career on-ramp, the chance to sharpen their skills, build confidence, make connections and gain experience. It is not uncommon for these people to be hired permanently at the end of the returnship assignment.
Awareness of returnships seems to be greatest in the financial services, tech and consulting sectors but, appears to be lacking in other industries. This is despite the strong business case they can offer to employers.
In the never-ending battle to identify, recruit and retain the best talent, offering a returnship programme enables employers to tap into an underserved pool of candidates with valuable skills and experience.
For many roles, applicants can all look alike and sound alike. Returnships are a great way to increase diversity, I think we are all agreed by now that this is a good thing.
Many returners will have been high achievers before their career break, acquiring skills and attributes that can be leveraged by a new employer. There is an excellent chance they will have also developed new skills during the career break. Any parent, for example, will understand the importance of multi-tasking, time-management, negotiation, empathy, patience etc. All of which can be used to support and develop existing teams.
Returnships are a great mechanism for an employer to ‘try before they buy’. When the stakes are high to find the right person for a senior-level position, returnships offer a flexible option for an employer to assess a person in the role before making a longer-term commitment.
Returnships will have a positive impact on employer brand. They can result in increased engagement from current employees and are also a great story to tell as part of a CSR programme.
Obviously, it is not one size fits all but, with the right approach from both sides, returnships are a win-win.
If your dream job is in the Cayman Islands, BVI, Bermuda or the Channel Islands, we are always happy to answer your questions.
Contact Highbury Consulting: Cayman: +1 345 3280555 London: +44 (0)20 8144 4576.