People looking for jobs after a hiatus often worry about career gaps, wondering whether employers will think it’s been too long since they worked. But for companies seeking skilled, experienced professionals, those are exactly the kind of people they need. It just takes a minute to get them back in the groove — and that’s what return to work programs like Raytheon Technologies’ “Re-Empower” are there for.
“The Re-Empower Program affords us an opportunity to attract and hire a largely unexplored pool of talent,” said Gail Jackson, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at Raytheon Technologies. “Our focus on diversity includes diversity of experiences and perspectives. When we bring together people with different viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds, we make better decisions.”
To date, Raytheon Technologies’ Re-Empower Program has seen all its graduates — including stay-at-home parents, college professors and long-term volunteers — move into full-time roles with the company. That success has led the company to launch another cohort.
Return to work programs increase diversity of experience on teams
“You don’t often hear about diversity of background,” said Kelly Thompson, a Re-Empower alumna who now works as a Value Stream Lead at Collins Aerospace overseeing budget, staffing, delivery and schedules for original equipment customers, Embraer and DeHavilland.
Thompson enrolled in the return to work program after taking a nine-year hiatus from her engineering career raise her three children and help support her husband’s career. But even the time away from engineering gave her opportunities to build on the skills she’d been developing for 14 years in the field.
“Part of that diversity of background is bringing these organizational skills, these interpersonal skills that I've developed while being a stay-at-home mom, running the parent-teacher organization, running around with three kids every day and managing a household. There's a real skillset there. Some of the skills I used when I was a stay-at-home mom, I'm using to drive my engineering team to get the results that I want in project management,” Thompson said.
An immersive onboarding program
A key element of the Re-Empower Program is its 14-week onboarding. During this time, participants gain paid, on-the-job experience. They’re also introduced to mentors, leadership and the company’s culture to help get them up to speed.
This is important as many professionals returning to work need time to regain their confidence in their abilities.
“There is so much information, but I picked up on things so quickly. My understanding of the business and skill set grew at a rate that it never did at any other point in my career,” said Thompson.
Investing in top talent
By investing in a 14-week onboarding, Raytheon Technologies can acquire talented and experienced employees that other companies can’t.
“Prior to my running across the Re-Empower Program, I had submitted resumes for almost two years for jobs that I felt I was very qualified for,” said Tani Foster, another alumna of the program. “I guess I could understand that they may believe that somebody's forgotten their skills. But if you have an individual who has been a top performer, they'll come back and regain that top performer status once they get back into the groove.”
Today, Foster is a subcontract manager for Global Supply Chain Management at Raytheon Technologies. Prior to taking a career break, she had 15 years of experience in commodity and subcontract management. During her break, Foster taught management courses at the graduate and undergraduate level for nine years.
“I told the HR department when I graduated from the Re-Empower Program that I had never been to an organization where I received the extent of onboarding that I received at Raytheon Technologies,” Foster said. “The care that they took in supporting us and getting us reengaged in our fields and getting us acquainted with Raytheon Technologies, there's no other experience I've ever had like it.”
“I really believe that it's a win-win for both the company as well as for the employee because you have employees who have been disengaged that have a lot to bring to the market. They get the onboarding they need to make a comeback and the company gets experienced employees with diverse backgrounds and skills.”