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Ad-Hoc Roles and Other New Supported Hiring Trends

This is the second of a series of 3 articles for returning professionals on new trends in returner programmes. Read on for trends in Supported Hiring, and see our previous post for new trends in returnship programmes.

If you’re looking to return to work after an extended career break, in a permanent role using your skills and experience, Supported Hiring could be a great option for you.

What is Supported Hiring?

Women Returners created the term “Supported Hiring” in 2015, to describe the process of bringing returning professionals directly into permanent roles with a wrapper of transition support.

When you join in a Supported Hire role at our partner employers, you will receive our Career Returners Coaching Programme, typically delivered 1:1, to give you essential support through your first 5 to 6 months in the role. Larger employers may also offer you a buddy to help you settle in, an internal mentor and training to help fill any knowledge or skills gaps due to your career break. See Career Returners at Allianz for an example.

There are several differences from a returnship (where you join on a fixed-term contract with a strong possibility but not a guarantee of a permanent role). These aren’t pros or cons of one format versus the other. They’re just different, and so (if you’ve a choice) the best fit will depend on your personal preferences:

  1. Joining in a permanent role gives you the certainty of an ongoing job with clarity from the start on your long-term objectives and responsibilities.
  2. Annual Supported Hiring programmes with larger employers typically run on a rolling basis, offering opportunities throughout the year, whereas returnships usually start at one fixed date in the year.
  3. Supported Hire roles are less likely to be ‘ringfenced’ for returners than on a returnship, so you’re more likely to be in competition with other external and internal candidates.
  4. You’re less likely to start as part of a cohort of returners, although you may well be connected with other previous returners at the organisation.
  5. Although you will receive support with Supported Hiring, it is often less structured than on a returnship.

Growth of Supported Hiring

Since the first Supported Hiring programme at M&G Investments UK in 2015, the market has grown significantly, albeit at a slower pace than returnships. By 2019 there were 17 UK employers running annual Supported Hiring programmes. A few multi-nationals such as AWS, Vodafone and UBS have launched annual Supported Hiring programmes on a global or multi-country basis over the last 5 years.

What isn’t reflected in this data, is that over this period there has also been major growth in ad-hoc Supported Hiring roles. These are often with smaller or medium-sized employers, who recognise the value of the returner talent pool but who do not have the volume of recruitment or the resources for an annual programme.

Trends in Supported Hiring

During 2020, we saw more ad-hoc Supported Hiring roles with larger employers. For example the Bank of England had a range of roles, starting at similar times, so brought returners into business-as-usual (BAU) roles, while offering a peer group Supported Hiring programme experience.

As more returnships restart in 2021 after a pause in 2020, we expect that employers will continue to use ad-hoc Supported Hiring as a way to widen the talent pool and attract returners for various BAU roles, maybe alongside a cohort-based annual returnship.

We’re excited to be having more conversations with returner employers about evolving Supported Hiring to become an integrated part of mainstream hiring. This is a larger-scale, longer-term aim. It involves not only a change in recruitment and advertising processes, but also the widespread reduction throughout the organisation in the hiring bias towards people without recent experience. However we are encouraging this ambition as a way to massively scale up returner hiring and achieve our goal of making career breaks a normal part of a 40-50 year career.

Read our returner programme success stories here to hear from participants themselves about their experiences. Some examples of supported hires are Kseniya at AWSFiona at UBS and Belinda at Clark Holt