Women Reentering The Workforce: An Undervalued Talent Pool

Resume bias? Don’t count women with a “gap” out. Instead, ask these questions.

Did you know many companies are missing out on a large, untouched pool of talent? It’s true, and too often it’s due to misconceived perceptions about something employers never take the time to ask questions about: a resume gap that keeps these women from getting back to work. This talented group of individuals is primarily made up of women reentering the workforce after taking a break from their professional careers. Unfortunately, there is a massive bias against these candidates because of the employment gap due to the time spent raising their children. However, they should not be ignored or classified as unqualified because of time away from their careers. After all, you may unknowingly pass up on critical talent hidden in this undervalued talent pool.Instead of dismissing an otherwise qualified resume because of the “gap”, ask the questions below during your interview to learn more about the individual to better assess their fit and readiness to reenter the workforce.

Why Does The “Gap” Matter for Women Wanting to Work?

The fact is, only 4.9% of stay-at-home moms receive an invitation to interview after applying for a position. This percentage is low because women with a resume gap are often seen as “out of touch” with industry trends and current technologies. Many businesses assume that a gap on a resume suggests women reentering the workforce will struggle, resulting in their resume being dismissed during the application process. However, stay-at-home moms offer a unique skill set you may not experience in a typical candidate. Women usually possess excellent soft skills such as empathy, communication, and listening, which translate well at work. These behavioral skills allow for superior customer service, stronger client relationships, and the ability to compromise. They also have learned how to multitask, balance priorities, handle challenging schedules and manage the finances of the home.  These skills can be a tremendous asset for your company, which is why it’s important to ask the right questions during the interview process about the gap rather than dismissing a candidate due to her length of time away from work. Here are three questions to ask women reentering the workforce during the interview process.

3 Questions to Ask Women Reentering the Workforce

1. Name two to three actions that you have undertaken to remain current with the industry?

Ask what industry news, trends, or software they’ve kept up with during their time away from work. This question is a way to gauge their interest level and dedication to their work. Candidates who are passionate about their career have higher work performance standards and tend to be more driven in their role. Ask this question to get to know your potential candidate and assess how committed they are to return to work. Did you know passion is a top indicator of success in potential hires? Learn more.

2. What are two or three of the critical skills that you have acquired during this time and how will they enable you to be successful in this role?

Raising children isn’t an easy task, and shouldn’t be seen as anything less than admirable. These women may not have spent the past several years at work in the corporate world, but they have spent this time managing the lives and well-being of their own children and their spouse. This experience can translate into critical skills for the workplace such as multitasking, organization, budgeting and time management.

3. What do you want me to take away from this meeting about you that we have not discussed or that is not on your resume?

Provide the candidate an opportunity to sell themselves and leave you with a lasting impression of who they are and what they can do for your company.

Returnships: Helping Mom’s Reenter the Workforce

A recent trend that is growing in popularity in larger cities is short-term career reentry programs, also known as returnships.  While these are similar to a traditional internship, returnships are specifically catered toward women reentering the workforce. Returnships are becoming a popular option to refresh career skills for stay-at-home moms and Veterans.

How candidates benefit from a returnship

This option allows candidates to be reintroduced to the corporate world without a long-term commitment. Returnships also give individuals a taste of the company’s culture they’re interning for, which will help them adjust to their role as they transition into a permanent position. A mentor is usually assigned to each intern, which fosters an engaging and collaborative environment — encouraging them to be confident about asking questions. In the end, if the potential candidate isn’t a good fit for the company, they can confidently move forward in their career with the new skills and references they gained.

How companies benefit from a returnship

As mentioned before, the most valuable benefit for your company is being able to test out a potential hire for a short period of time. If the intern is a good fit for the role, they will be able to smoothly transition into a new role without requiring an onboarding process. Whichever employee you assign to the intern should be able to properly educate them on the ins and outs of your company. Most importantly, offering returnship opportunities will establish your organization as an advocate for women returning to work, demonstrating that you encourage the empowerment of mothers in the workplace. This will also help you attract talent and more diverse candidates to your company.

How to Tap Into the Talent Pool

At Kinsley Sarn, we look past the resume and directly to the candidate. When we source candidates — such as women reentering the workforce — we get to know who they are, along with their strengths and weaknesses. In our eyes, a resume gap due to being a stay-at-home mom or to serve our country is never a weakness. Women re-entering the workforce offer a level of talent and aptitude that can greatly benefit any company, including yours. As with any hire, specifically an executive hire, we always encourage companies to focus on the fit rather than just the find. By asking strategic questions, like the ones above, you can learn more about these women while discerning their potential and fit within the culture. You can count on our dedicated team to be there every step of the way to support your company and guarantee the successful recruitment and assimilation of each executive hire. Contact us to learn more about our efforts to tap into this talent pool and other diversity efforts we employ in our search process.

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