Last night, around 50 women gathered at the 92Y for a discussion about opting back into the workforce. Hosted by Après co-founder Jennifer Gefsky, the evening was both informative and inspiring, with panelists sharing personal stories and tips for reentry into the corporate world after time away from paid work.
Jen was joined by Belinda Jettar, the Americas Lead for Internal Mobility & Diversity Recruiting for Credit Suisse, where she heads up the company’s Real Returns program; Cheryl Casone, Fox News Anchor and author of The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workforce Successfully; Jenna Bloomgarden, VP, Director of Client Service at Graystone Consulting and a graduate of Morgan Stanley’s 2015 Return to Work program; and Barri Waltcher, career strategist, certified professional resume writer and co-founder of Mind Your Own Business Moms.
Jen kicked off the discussion by sharing a story about the lack of self confidence that many women feel after taking time off from professional work, whether it be to raise children, care for aging family members, or something else. The panelists agreed that insecurity is the biggest hurdle, not lack of skills or an inability to keep up with the modern work world. Cheryl, who interviewed 100 women who took a career pause for her book, explained that at first, women think companies are doing them a favor by interviewing and ultimately hiring them. But with time, returners come to realize their value: “I am actually doing them a favor.”
Belinda furthered that point, explaining how Credit Suisse is focused on increasing gender diversity, but the women who go through their Real Returns program offer the company experience, maturity, a strong skill-set and a desire to work hard. As Cheryl explained, “Credit Suisse understands that moms help the company’s bottom line.” And Belinda advised women not to shy away from the gap. Rather, use it to your advantage; make yourself stand out.
Barri offered attendees a straightforward plan for thinking about reentry and said it shouldn’t start with revamping your resume. Reentry should be a three-step process: think about who you are, what you’re good at and what you love to do, and why you are returning to work. If you’re going to opt back in, you should love what you’re doing. And by revisiting your successes, both from your past career and your time outside of the workforce, you’ll realize just how awesome you are, “something that your children likely won’t remind you of on a daily basis.”
The audience Q&A was equally informative, with panelists and audience members sharing advice and best practices. It was an inspiring evening of women coming together to help and empower one another.
Jen closed the discussion by talking about failure and rejection. “Once you recognize that you will experience failure and rejection in some form, it’s actually liberating. The important point is that you put yourself out there and learn from any setbacks. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll become stronger and better from the experience.”