A cursory glance at Addie Swartz’s resume would lead many to think she’s a master at reinventing herself (baker, writer, technology, HR). Swartz will tell you she’s an entrepreneur. Spend some time speaking with her and it’s quickly obvious she’s actually a social change maker who happens to be a brilliant businesswoman and the creator of reacHIRE.
An unexpected career break occurred for Swartz when her child was injured in a serious car accident. A new set of contemporaries emerged during that time: women who’d bowed out of careers to either raise children, care for aging parents or deal with other issues. What Swartz noticed – these women knew they wanted to return to the workforce at some point, but had no strategies for doing so.
Enter reacHIRE. The concept: “It’s a comprehensive on-ramp for women who’ve taken a career break,” Swartz explains. “And it’s targeted to companies looking for special talent that’s been sitting on the sidelines.”
reacHIRE prepares women technically, professionally and emotionally to return to the workforce through a combination of training and on-the-job experience, all with a support network backing them up.
Groups of 10 to 12 women, called “cohorts,” complete “returnships” together at the same leading company (think Wayfair, Deloitte, etc.). These returnships, which last from nine weeks to six months, are a combination of training, practical experience and social support that re-introduces the women to the professional world, while helping them reconnect with their professional selves.
Key for the cohorts is having one another to lean on. Swartz says it’s the best way “to ensure that person thrives.”
reacHIRE’s success has seen its expansion to myriad locations around the country including Seattle, Boston, Raleigh and Kentucky.
For women who’ve tapped out and are ready to re-launch their professional career, Swartz provides the following advice:
Reconnect with Your Strengths
Swartz says to think back to what you were good at pre-break. Also, look at what skills you may have developed since, through things such as volunteering. “Really dig deep and understand what your strengths are, then repackage yourself.”
Find a Posse
“It takes a lot of courage to go back to something you haven’t done in a while, especially if you’re going back to a corporation.” Swartz says. Her advice: Build a cheering squad with friends, family, and other women in the same stage as you.
Obtain the Tools to Jump-Start Your Skill Set
“Not being up-to-speed on these types of skills will date you,” Swartz says. She suggests turning to the Internet for free tutorials or to obtain certifications, something that will help minimize the impact of your break in employers’ eyes.
Get Up to Speed with Your Industry and Target Firms
“Do your homework,” Swartz says. “Check out the social footprints of companies you’re interested in.” Beyond researching online and conducting informational interviews, Swartz says, “See what they’re talking about, launching, doing… really understand more about their industry.”
For those currently working and considering leaving the workplace, here are pointers from Swartz to make re-entry easier:
Make a point of staying in contact with your professional network and up-to-date with industry trends. Social media, especially LinkedIn, is a great tool to do so.
Be a Lifelong Learner
Take advantage of your pause to utilize your professional skills in volunteer roles or a bit of freelancing. “Today’s world and tomorrow’s world will mean constantly reinventing to adapt to new technologies, new jobs and new skills that don’t even exist today.”
To learn more about reacHIRE visit www.reachire.com.