Working women face quite the conundrum when they become mothers: Entrust the life and well-being of their child to a virtual stranger and pay outrageously to do so, or leave their jobs altogether?
But what happens when those same women decide to come back to the workforce years or even decades later? A Boston-based company, reacHIRE, is asking the same question.
“The simple fact is that 43 percent of highly educated career women leave the business world at some point when they have children,” said Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE. “They elect to take a career break and then, at a later point, 90 percent of these same women want to return, but they don’t know how to get themselves back in the game.”
The reacHIRE program — which recently expanded to a fourth location in Seattle — helps women prepare to reenter the work force through a free three-week training session that reintroduces them to office life, teaches them about LinkedIn, helps them to build a resume, coaches them through mock interviews, and brings them up to speed on any new office technology that may have emerged during their workforce absence.
Anne Hoffman, a graduate of the reacHIRE program, was out of the workforce for 12 years while she raised her son and two daughters and helped her parents through health issues before she decided it was time to reenter the workforce.
“I never intended (the employment gap) to be so long, but between children’s needs, parents’ needs, the dot com bust, and the recession, it stretched out,” she said. “The longer I was out, the harder it seemed to be to get perspective employers to consider me seriously.”
Once participants complete their training and graduate from the program, reacHIRE works to bridge the gap between these skilled, educated women and innovative local companies looking to hire experienced individuals. This was the part of the reacHIRE experience that Hoffman found the most helpful.
“Most importantly, reacHIRE is an advocate for women who have been out; suddenly, I was not alone in trying to get a prospective employer to consider me,” Hoffman said. “The project placement that I had gave me a chance to get into my company (EMC and later Dell Technologies) and prove myself, while being low-risk for the employer.”
Hoffman said she thoroughly enjoyed the reacHIRE experience, which allowed her to bond with other women facing similar employment hurdles.
“Going through the process with a group of women in the same situation was very beneficial and supportive, and I am still in touch with the women in this group,” she said.
Swartz will be hosting a reacHIRE LinkedIn Workshop at Impact Hub Seattle on December 15 for women looking to reenter the job market. Tickets and additional information can be found online.