Back to Work: From ‘Intern’ to ‘Return’

Our Indiana INTERNnet program has been touting "returnships" the last several years. The benefits are plentiful for both employers and those seeking to re-enter the workforce.

Check out some analysis below from the Challenger Gray & Christmas outplacement and consulting firm:

“Employers are consistently wary of employment gaps brought on by a layoff, parenthood, or some other life event that prohibits working. A ‘returnship’ for former or transitioning professionals with otherwise sterling employment records, but prolonged unemployment, solves this issue,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and business coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Candidates, such as returning mothers or retirees, who have been out of work for six months or longer are perceived as having outdated skills.  As a result, they are often screened out early in the recruiting process.  A ‘returnship’ on a resume shows the employer that the candidates are willing to learn, have updated training and recent on-the-job experience, making them much more marketable,” said Challenger.

“The benefit to companies, unlike with entry-level interns, is that returnees can be assigned more complicated projects depending on their previous industry experience and set of skills.”

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, Goldman Sachs offered an 8 week paid “returnship” for non-client facing departments in 2008. The effort resulted in 6 hirings from the 11 attendees. Since then, the program has grown to include positions nationwide and helped 120 individuals return to the workforce, according the company’s 2011 Environmental, Social and Governance Report. Moreover, those enrolled took on advanced tasks, such as developing training programs or creating mechanisms for client confidentiality.

“Companies would be wise to invest in ‘returnship’ programs in order to find and develop the right talent for their organization, which does not always mean the youngest or most malleable. Older professionals, returning mothers, and veterans already have the on-the-job experience most internships are created to impart on college-aged job seekers,” said Challenger.

“Professionals interested in pursuing this sort of opportunity should not sit back and wait for a company to develop a ‘returnship’ program. Request meetings with high-level executives at companies that interest you and suggest starting such a program yourself. If you can convince one company of the benefits, others may follow suit.

“Professionals should treat the process as a constant interview. Take initiative, show how you can benefit the company, befriend those who are already employed with the organization, always be on time and professional, and seek feedback,” offered Challenger.
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Who Benefits From “Returnships?”

The Returning Parent – Mothers and fathers who have left the job market to raise a family often return to biased employers who are wary of their skill sets and absence from the workforce.

Transitioning Military – Former military have extensive on-the-job training in new technology, leadership development, and discipline, but lack experience with corporate culture a “returnship” would offer.

Older Workers – Older professionals have to deal with age discrimination, as well as potential gaps in employment.

Expatriates – Workers going to other countries for employment would gain necessary and helpful experience in another culture.

Long-term Unemployed – Whatever the reason for the employment gap, a “returnship” would revitalize a resume.

Employers – Recruiting interns who already have extensive on-the-job experience is valuable for any employer, as these professionals are ready to hit the ground running and take on meatier tasks.

Cashing In On Unused Coupons

I love coupons … in theory, that is. Right now, 15 or 20 clippings are awaiting their escape in a handy little blue case. But despite the best of intentions, they probably won’t see the light of day.

Here’s why: I always forget them in my car when I’m at the grocery store. Why not go back and get them, you ask? Too inconvenient (pathetic, I know). Fair enough, you say. But why not keep the coupons in your purse? I counter, with a raised eyebrow, “Do I really need to add another item to the Great Abyss?”

The May edition of Harvard Business Review reveals that only 1% of all coupons are used – and says that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, businesses can reap more rewards from consumers who pitch the coupons touting the items or services they’re pitching (Get it? My apologies).

Unused coupons still pay off
In 2010, U.S. consumers redeemed 3.3 billion coupons, cutting roughly $3.7 billion from purchase prices. That’s a lot, particularly since only about 1% of all coupons are ever used. Conventional wisdom holds that little benefit is seen from the other 99%. But new research suggests that unredeemed coupons are highly valuable. In fact, the coupons that wind up in the trash ultimately deliver greater returns to a company than the coupons that are redeemed.

In an experiment with eight national retailers, consumers who received but did not redeem coupons still typically increased their purchases in the associated stores. In fact, as a group the nonredeemers accounted for 60% of the coupons’ "sales lift" – the additional amount spent on both promoted and unpromoted items.

How do coupons produce a lift among nonredeemers? They increase awareness of a brand or a retailer even when they’re not cashed in. This finding isn’t surprising, but the magnitude of the benefit is.

Coupons can serve as advertisements that attract new customers and inspire gratitude and loyalty among existing ones by delivering important messages about a company. Therefore, as much care should be taken with coupons as with other marketing materials, striving to delight customers, not simply to close a deal.   

Source: Harvard Business Review, May 2012    

The Morning People Shall Inherit the Earth

An intriguing article by biologist Christoph Randler from the Harvard Business Review contends that morning people are actually most successful in the business world, due to their proclivity to be more proactive. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense.

And if you’re not a morning person (I’m not either), just please don’t be like that guy in a recent McDonald’s commercial who refused to speak to anyone – regardless of the critical nature of their inquiry – until he had his coffee. Oh, you’re so precious and delicate that no mere mortal is allowed to speak to you until you’ve had some caffeine? Wish somebody in that ad would’ve just said, "Great, here’s some scalding Folgers in your face. You awake now, tough guy?"

Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

If I wanted to train myself to be a morning person, how would I do it?

The fascinating thing about our findings is that duration of sleep has nothing to do with the increased proactivity and morning alertness that we see among morning people. But while the number of hours of sleep doesn’t matter, the timing of sleep does. So you could try shifting your daily cycle by going to bed earlier. Another thing you could do is go outside into the daylight early in the morning. The daylight resets your circadian clock and helps shift you toward morningness. If you go outside only in the evening, you tend to shift toward eveningness.

If I taught myself to be a morning person, would I become more proactive?

I don’t know. One theory is that morning people are more proactive because getting up early gives them more time to prepare for the day. If that’s true, then increasing your morningness might improve your proactivity. But there’s evidence that something inherent may determine proactivity. Studies show that conscientiousness is also associated with morningness. Perhaps proactivity grows out of conscientiousness.