What is a Returnship? Great Opportunity or Liability?

What is a Returnship? Great Opportunity or Liability?I recently came across a new term to add to my recruiting/HR vocabulary: returnship.

What is a Returnship?

Basically, a “returnship” is a type of internship geared specifically to professionals who have taken over a two-year hiatus from their career and could perhaps use additional training, or — from the employer’s perspective — a window for additional on-ramping and vetting. Although it mostly applies to parents taking a break to care for children, I’m sure there are many individuals who have needed to take time off of work for various reasons.

Returnships: Great Opportunity or Liability?

I personally think it’s a great idea to offer opportunities and resources to intelligent, driven people who happen to have been out of the market for several years. I think the main issue candidates such as these face when re-entering the workforce are the changes in technology/policies/etc. from when they were last working. I do not believe they are lacking the ability, skills or intelligence that positions require.

To put it another way, I believe people who have previously proven themselves to be successful in their careers are most likely very capable of success in the future. This is why I think a returnship can be a great opportunity for companies to “take a risk” on knowledgeable candidates with employment gaps, bring them up to speed, and potentially hire them full-time. From a recruiting standpoint, this is an excellent source of talent to tap into.

After reading more about returnship programs that companies offer (Goldman Sachs started the trend, and has even trademarked the term), it makes sense that some programs are highly competitive. I can see how it might be difficult to vet a candidate’s potential after years-long gaps in employment.

I do encourage companies to consider implementing their own returnship program. After a few months of part-time work in your office, you could find an incredible addition to your company who you might not have considered otherwise.

What’s Your Take?

What do you think of returnships? Do you think they could be a valuable tactic for attracting new talent, or do you think it’s best to go with candidates without breaks in their careers?

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