These Companies Are Helping Put Moms Back To Work
Women’s experiences while they’re taking time off to raise their children can actually amplify and sharpen their existing professional skills and talents.
Returning to the paid workforce can be a serious struggle for women who take time off to start a family or provide childcare. This time out of work, or what some call a “work pause,” is such a hindrance that, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, less than half of the women who leave for familial or other reasons return.
The prevailing notion is that women’s business acumen and skillset diminishes as a result of a work pause. Fortunately, more and more employers are seeing that the opposite is true: Women’s experiences while they’re out of the paid workforce actually amplify and sharpen their existing professional skills and talents.
This recognition is growing, thanks in large part to companies that help moms return to the paid workforce. One such organization, ReBoot Career Accelerator for Women, offers continuing professional development and twice-monthly workshops. Their training helps get job hunters up to speed with current technologies and applications, such as social media, as well as with personal branding, job searches and the like.
Perhaps most importantly, ReBoot helps mothers understand and leverage the skills they’ve developed during their pause, effectively transforming any insecurity or uncertainty around these skills into confidence so that they can then leverage those skills professionally. While ReBoot’s services are currently limited to Silicon Valley, Chicago, Seattle and New York City, they are expanding into new cities.
A similar company, Apres, aims to help the “more than 3 million women with college or advanced degrees trying to reenter the workforce” succeed. A LinkedIn-style platform, Apres offers a wide variety of online services, including interview tips and career coaching from a multitude of vetted professionals.
They also offer informative and provocative essays, inspiring success stories from women who’ve benefitted from their services, and a carefully curated selection of full-time, part-time and project-based job openings from companies committed to getting women who’ve been out of work back into it.
Perhaps the most sophisticated organization of its kind, iRelaunch produces-cutting edge products and services for out-of-work professionals and then takes it one step further by offering them to employers recruiting from this demographic as well.
To this end, the self-professed “Return-to-Work Experts” cultivate and maintain relationships with myriad professional associations and university alumni, ensuring job hunters an extensive audience of connections and prospective employers, both nationally and internationally.
To date, their more than 230 programs and presentations on returning to work have reached an international audience. Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of iRelaunch, gave a wildly popular TED Talk, “How to Get Back to Work After a Career Break,” that has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times and translated into more than 25 languages.
Both the number of companies such as these and the number of women they are able to reach and assist is expanding. This is due, at least in part, to the origins of these businesses. These companies were founded and are operated by women who struggled to re-enter the workplace after taking time off; each notes the camaraderie and connection they feel with the women they assist.
Borne from the same painful, alienating experiences, the women behind ReBoot, Apres, and iRelaunch have done what women have done for generations: Transform their struggles into success.
We can’t know how long it will take until women’s “work pauses” are no longer detrimental to their careers, but based on the pioneering work these organizations are doing, it’s safe to assume that women will continue to be at the fore of this necessary cultural shift.
Appalachian born and raised, Brook Bolen is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Salon, Jezebel and Dame, among others. She lives with her family in Virginia.