Podcast #219 – Carol Fishman Cohen Discusses the State of Back to Work Programs in the COVID-19 World
This week I am speaking with Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO, and Co-Founder of iRelaunch. I had Carol on the podcast way back in Episode #80. I wanted her back to discuss the state of back-to-work programs.
Here is a bit of her bio:
Carol Fishman Cohen, builder of corporate career re-entry programs and leader of the iRelaunch #returntowork community (now nearly 85,000 strong) is a pioneer in the career re-entry space. Her viral TED talk, “How to get back to work after a career break,” has nearly 3.5 million views and is translated into 30 languages. She is the host of the popular 3,2,1 iRelaunch podcast. Cohen’s articles have been published in HBR, NBCNews.com, Fairygodboss, Forbes, and Next Avenue. Regularly quoted in the national press as a subject matter expert on career re-entry, and a sought-after international speaker, Carol has addressed over 500 audiences.
This episode is sponsored by Career Pivot. Check out the Career Pivot Community. Make sure and pick up my latest book, Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life Third Edition.
Now on to the podcast…
Disproportionate Career Breaks
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a recession worse than the 2008 recession in terms of the total number of people who lost their jobs.
However, not only did over 5 million people lose their jobs during the pandemic but 2.3-2.5 million women removed themselves from the labor force due to kids who needed to be schooled at home or where daycares had closed.
Many decided they were not going to look for work anymore.
The big question now is, ‘When is that wave going to be coming back to work?’
Larger Number Returning to Work
Those people that left because of the pandemic are now added to those people who were already on multi-year breaks.
The pool of people returning to work will now double.
In the last 4-5 years 3 million baby boomers have left the job market.
Will they come back?
They don’t get counted in those unemployment numbers.
Ease of Transition Back
During the pandemic, there was a crisis and demand for medical workers.
We saw people getting called out of retirement and their career breaks because the country was in its hour of need.
These people were back without all the stigma because we needed them.
It was a smooth process.
Let’s remember how easy it was for them to come back when it’s not a pandemic world.
Psyche While Unemployed
Long-term unemployment does something to the person’s psyche in a normal time in life.
This recession is so different because our quality of life was different.
We were isolated.
When interviewing people, the words isolated, isolation, and lonely kept coming up.
Isolation can truly mess with our minds.
In addition, prolonged job searches where you’re rejected or not even acknowledged can have an impact on your mental health.
Related to that, we think the people who are taking career breaks for covid reasons are going to be on career breaks longer than anticipated.
It used to be all in-person conferences.
Now, it’s all virtual instead.
Thankfully, the company was able to pivot and respond quickly.
Recruiting opportunities are greater now because we can look nationally instead of just locally.
The silver lining is that there is a lot more focus on return to work on both the company and individual sides.
So, all the work we’ve done in the past is much more active today.
How Technology Changed
Marc is writing a lot about the destruction that Covid has caused.
However, there have been some positives to come out of it too.
Marc and Chris Farrel had a discussion about the fact that there has been a digital revolution for a long time but Covid just accelerated it.
For example, the adoption of video.
Netflix forced everyone to change years ago. This change helps everyone use Zoom today.
Also, LinkedIn announced that they were changing the standard categories in the drop-down menu.
For example, you can select the category of ‘Stay at home mom or dad’ and not have an employer attached to it.
That is a huge development.
This kind of standardization is an important step in a career break.
If you had a career break, you couldn’t get a job.
Now, there is some normalization of a career break.
One piece of advice for someone considering relaunching?
You have to spend time figuring out what you want to do all over again.
You are a different person now.
It will power everything about your relaunch.
So many industries have been disrupted.
You need to go back and rethink and re-evaluate.
Do you downsize?
Where do you live?
For example, Marc now lives in Mexico and notes he has better healthcare in Mexico than he did in the US.
You need to think about these things.
You can reach Carol at:
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