I’m not alone in recognising the importance of team diversity in a business. At Aldrich we spend much of our time attracting the bright new stars to the City and placing them in great jobs where they have no experience but so much potential. Their skills are yet to be proven but with our guidance, mapped out on their short CVs where every week of work experience is a goldmine and learning curves are steep. So often they will fall into a career direction during enthusiastic conversations over a frothy decaf cappuccino, and it is unlikely these days that it will be a career that will span a lifetime with a handful of employers as used to be the case. Their confidence and enthusiasm play a great part in helping to create opportunities and at the beginning of their careers they have little to set them back.
We have seen many middle-aged job hunters shaken by a lack of confidence when making a career change or returning to work after a family. For an employer, experienced returners are a huge asset: the management skills, sophisticated communication skills and years of hard graft through the recessions and boom times have been hard won. Often they’ve been gained in conjunction with seamlessly managing a family from nappies or caring for elderly relatives. These candidates have honed their skills in how to deal with pressure and multi-task in isolation, but often after a period not working may have lost their self-belief. Being confronted by an application form where ‘current position’ looms out as one of the first questions is sure to catch you on a back foot, how can you sum all that up! Some find that your level of skill with technology can knock your confidence to an all-time low. Let’s face it, with technology being so user-friendly that my 82-year-old father deals with all his correspondence, on-line banking, currency switches, trades, energy suppliers, contracts etc it really shouldn’t be a big issue!
The biggest problem is confidence and building this back up is key. More employers are reaching out to this population of ‘returners’ offering a first step back on the career ladder. This is gaining recognition and cross-party groups of MPs are urging the government and employers to help women who have had career breaks get back into work. Where the large US banks have been offering ‘returnships’ since 2008, the UK has been slow to catch on. The placements now offered include brushing up technology skills, coaching, mentoring and reacclimatising to the corporate world. Returners offer significant value in terms of experience, efficiency and knowledge – after 12 years one of our candidates has landed a superb job – she has been hired by a global investment bank. After a year of refreshing her skills and working on special projects as part of their returner programme, she is now a key support to the Chief’s inner circle with a significant role and salary to match!