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HerMoney Podcast Episode 173: Working It After A Career Break With Addie Swartz

Kathryn Tuggle  |  August 7, 2019

Returning to the work force after taking time off for caregiving or travel can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be.

If you haven’t taken a career break yourself, chances are you know someone who has. Today, 85% of millennials are planning to take career breaks, but unfortunately, returning to the workforce after time away can be much more challenging than landing that first job.

This week, Jean sits down with Addie Swartz, CEO of ReacHIRE, a company that partners with Fortune 500 companies to create re-entry opportunities for women of all ages, at all stages of their careers. Addie, who is a serial entrepreneur and also a mom of two, talks about the resources women need to get back to work, including free online courses, resume updates, and networking. She also offers insider tips on how using the right keywords on your application can help your resume rise to the top of digital applicant systems and databases. Jean and Addie also explore the variety of compensation packages available on the market right now, and why no decision should ever be made based on salary alone.

In Mailbag, Jean dishes on the best bank and investment account security protocols, and dives into some of the best ways to eliminate credit card debt and get that “sparkle” back in your life. And, in Thrive, a look at why remote workers are not only happier, they’re also (gasp!) more productive.

Transcript

Jean Chatzky: (00:07)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. We want you to demand more from your money, so start by knowing what you own and what you owe. We’ll help you take the next step at fidelity.com/demandmorenow. HerMoney comes to you through PRX. Hey everybody, it’s Jean Chatzky. Welcome to HerMoney. I went to the theater last night. We actually saw a production of a musical called Working at Encores, which is a series of smaller musicals, or musicals that haven’t been produced for awhile, that they bring back for just a short period of time with usually an amazing cast and put them on at City Center in New York. And I was thinking about the fact that we were going to do this show today A. because the name of the show was working and it was all about working and B. because I ran into my sister in law, Amy, in the lobby, I did not know that she was going to be there and she is one of the many, many women in my life who took a break from their career and then struggled at some point to figure out how to get back in. And it’s something that so many women go through, which is why I’m thrilled today to have Addie Swartz in the studio. Addie is the CEO and the founder of a company called Reach Hire and Reach Hire partners with Fortune 500 companies to create re-entry opportunities for women of all ages at all stages of their careers. Addie, welcome.

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Addie Swartz: (01:56)
Thank you so much Jean.

Jean Chatzky: (01:57)
Thanks for being here. Tell me how you started Reach Hire. What was it about your background that made you go in this direction?

Addie Swartz: (02:08)
Well, I just saw so many women that were sitting on the sidelines. They had taken time off either to have a family or to take care of a parent. Maybe they had breast cancer and they were sitting on the sidelines not being able to get back in. And my personal story is we had a car accident and my younger daughter ended up suffering a serious concussion. So I stepped out of the workforce to take care of her. And that’s when I really recognized this huge amount of talent. Shockingly, it’s almost 2 million women.

Jean Chatzky: (02:42)
Wow.

Addie Swartz: (02:43)
That are sitting on the sidelines with advanced degrees, you know, professional experience. So many of them want to get back and just can’t.

Jean Chatzky: (02:50)
I got to tell you, I recently was hiring a couple of part time people at HerMoney and I decided I would put just a notification in this Facebook group that I’m a part of. It’s a mom’s group in my community. I got so many emails from women who had more advanced degrees than I do and were just looking to do something. And that told me, in a way that I didn’t even know before, how difficult this is.

Addie Swartz: (03:21)
So there’s so many barriers to, for a woman to get back.

Jean Chatzky: (03:25)
Like what?

Addie Swartz: (03:26)
What are those barriers? Well, first of all, if you have a resume gap, you can’t get through the technology, the ATS systems. So there’s all this advanced technology when you apply online that will just spit out your resume into the proverbial garbage can just because you have that career break. Secondly, you’re a bit older typically because you’ve taken some time off and so many corporations and folks really look to digital natives to fill their roles. You know, and if somebody has been doing it down the street, they can do it here versus somebody who has a huge amount of experience, but you’re not quite sure where their skills are, where they’re, you know, aptitude and attitude is and how they’ll fit in. So it’s a bit more of a risk. And I do think that, you know, with older, outdated tech skills, I mean, technology changes so fast. Two years ago we were using different tools and we’re using today. So if you’ve been out for 5 years or 7 or even 10 or more, your skills were a bit outdated and so you sort of need that, you know, re-invigoration of your, of your own toolkit in order to properly get those jobs. So it’s so much harder. I think the last thing is that all the research shows that women don’t apply for things, that they don’t think they’re 100% qualified for.

Jean Chatzky: (04:42)
I know that drives me crazy.

Addie Swartz: (04:45)
So if you add all that up, it means for a lot of women that are sitting on the sidelines and not getting back in, and it’s a really a missed opportunity for corporations and the women that A. want to work B. would be great workers and C. need the money. We all need the money to fuel, you know, our mortgages, our educations at families, et cetera.

Jean Chatzky: (05:06)
Absolutely. I do want to just clarify though, we’re not just talking about gen Xers and baby boomers. There are a lot of millennials who have young kids who’ve taken a few years out. This applies to them too, correct?

Addie Swartz: (05:17)
What a great point. There was a study just recently done that said that by 2025 75% of our workforce will be millennials and 85% of those millennials are planning to take career breaks. And that’s both men and women. So today’s generations, the, you know, millennials and gen Zs are planning to take time off to do different things, whether it’s to have a family, whether it’s to go on a mission and do something important that they feel in a foreign country. Whatever it is that floats their boat, they are absolutely thinking about and planning career breaks. So our workforce and our corporations need to be more thoughtful about creating formal on ramps and off ramps to enable us to leverage the potential that’s out there for our companies.

Jean Chatzky: (06:05)
So I want to talk about two things. First of all, I want to talk about what you guys do specifically, the return ships that you organize and facilitate. But I also, for those of our listeners who might not have access to one, want to talk about how to do this yourself. So let’s start with your formal program. How does it work? How do you apply? Where is it available?

Addie Swartz: (06:29)
So first of all, to learn more about us, you go to reachire.com.

Jean Chatzky: (06:32)
Can we spell it because it’s a little confusing. It’s R E A C H I R E. One word.

Addie Swartz: (06:40)
One word and one H. Reachire.com. And we have hundreds of job openings. We do it programmatically, so we bring women in together into a corporation. We partner with the company to identify roles that would be great for returners. We create a formal on ramp, which is six months typically. Although we are launching an exciting program with Google, Cambridge coming up, that will be a nine month return to work program. But it is embedded with skill development, so a tech upgrade, live training, support with your group, as well as confidence boost and then you’re actually in a job, you’re getting paid the whole time for that onboarding, training and ongoing support while you navigate this new opportunity in a new corporation and sometimes even a new job that you’ve never done before.

Jean Chatzky: (07:35)
So you’re based in Boston?

Addie Swartz: (07:37)
We’re based in Boston, but we have programs nationwide and we’re working with Fidelity Investments in many markets. We’re launching an exciting program in Seattle with a major corporation T-mobile. And we work with Wayfair, Lionbridge a host of organizations in a host of roles. So it’s not only financial services, but technology, sales, marketing, and more traditional finance roles.

Jean Chatzky: (08:02)
And are you placing people at all levels?

Addie Swartz: (08:05)
Typically the women we place have had somewhere north of five years of professional experience, sometimes a bit more. Some have advanced degrees. Most of college educations.

Jean Chatzky: (08:17)
Okay. I want to remind everyone, and you just mentioned Fidelity, our sponsor, let’s take the time to remind everyone that this conversation and conversations like these are sponsored by Fidelity Investments and Fidelity is all about helping you demand more for your money. It’s about helping you make your savings work as hard as you do so that you can reach your financial goals faster. This all starts with a financial checkup and an understanding of what you own and what you owe. From there, Fidelity will work with you to evaluate your investment options and different ways to grow your savings and you can get started today at.com/demandmorenow. I’m talking with the CEO of Reach Hore Addie Swartz. Let’s DIY it for people. You’re listening to this, you’ve been out of the workforce, or maybe you’ve got a friend who’s been out of the workforce, you want to go back? What’s step one?

Addie Swartz: (09:15)
Well, I would say step one is go to reachire.com and look at our jobs because if you are interested and can find an opportunity there that is a good fit, we help you do your resume, work on your LinkedIn, prep you for interviews, and then you get the job, the training and the support.

Jean Chatzky: (09:33)
Let’s say it’s not there.

Addie Swartz: (09:33)
So say it’s not there or we’re not there yet in that market. There’s so many resources today that you just need to empower yourself. So you know, number one is invest in yourself. Upgrade your skills. You can do courses for free online in the tech areas.

Jean Chatzky: (09:53)
You mentioned a couple of things though that maybe even come before the courses. So let’s talk about your resume. When you say update your resume. My daughter’s just out of college and so I’ve seen there are these resumes that look like traditional resumes and then there are these resumes that are very designed. What kind of resume do you need these days?

Addie Swartz: (10:14)
Yeah, I don’t think the design is as important as the substance. I’ve always felt that, and companies are used to seeing different kinds of resumes. The most important thing is leveraging the skills. Many people, when they take a break, are doing other things that are meaningful, that are contributing to their skill base anyway, so packaging them in a way that enables a future employer to understand what you’ve been doing that can translate into values and skills for the workforce is critical.

Jean Chatzky: (10:45)
Can you give me an example of that? Let’s say you’ve been out of the workforce, but maybe you’ve been an active part of your community, or an active part of a parent-teacher organization. How do you put that on your resume and how do you outwit the computers that are going to get rid of you if you have a gap?

Addie Swartz: (11:03)
Right. Well, I think that there’s multiple ways to get your resume in front of an employer. And the ATS system is just one of them. So networking and finding a neighbor or somebody through LinkedIn that you know that could actually, you know, bring your resume into the organization is always a much better bet. But even going back before that, two days ago, I chatted with somebody, Suzanne, who had spent five years working with our PTA on building the big fair that, you know, raises money for extra things for their school. So, perfect example, that she put this, you know, “what do I do with this? How do I talk about this?” “Well, what did you do?” “Well, I built a spreadsheet. I was logging in all the activities and all the gifts that people were giving and logging the donations that I was doing analysis” and okay, well you actually just ran this whole event that generated a couple hundred thousand dollars in sales for your community. You know you’re a project manager, you and using those words that are SEO, search engine optimized, makes a difference so that you won’t get thrown out of that ATS system. But thinking about those skills and packaging them in a way that will talk to project management, which every company needs project managers and financial acumen and knowing how to use the latest Excel pivot tables. Those show that your skills are up to date.

Jean Chatzky: (12:33)
As we talk about having the neighbor bring in your resume, we’re getting into networking a little bit. If you feel like your networks have gone cold, what’s the best way to reinvigorate them?

Addie Swartz: (12:45)
There are hundreds of meetups in every community that you can go to weekly. There’s a meetup site online. There’s evite that you know is out there. There are lots of different places where you can find activities in your community. In our neck of the woods, there are entrepreneur groups. There’s coworking spaces that have events all the time. You can find things through your university alumni association. Often church groups and synagogues have opportunities to network with people. I know local towns have networking groups and Chamber of Commerces are great places, so really you just have to be a little creative about where you can find people and if you’re in the do it yourself mode, you know, go to one of these things and just think “I’m going to meet one person.” You might be shy, you might be a bit reserved. If you can meet one person each time you go out and make some goals for yourself in a month, you know, if you go to three or four events, suddenly you’re building up. Clearly build out your LinkedIn profile, look at where you used to work, find where some of those people that you worked with are at now. Reach out to them, have informational coffees. The list goes on and on so you can get yourself started on your own. You need a little luck and you need a lot of perseverance, but you can do it.

Jean Chatzky: (14:03)
One of the questions that we get asked a lot through our mailbag is from women who have taken a break, they want to come back and they’re worried about the salary. “How much should I ask for at this point? Am I still at the same level I was in terms of both salary and title?” What happens?

Addie Swartz: (14:23)
So I actually think about it very differently and the way we run our programs is you’re getting paid to get your skills up and on the job training and your resume back where it needs to be all over a six month period as opposed to signing up for, you know, a training that costs $15-20,000 or getting a certificate or something like that. The way I like to think about it is that it’s all about investing in yourself and so with a return to work program, you’re paid to upgrade your skills and do the program. You have to have the long view. You have to think about investing in yourself. Also, you may have managed a group of people when you left. You may be coming back as an individual contributor. The job you’re coming into may be a different job with different sets of roles and expectations. It’s not about what you’re getting when you walk in the door because somebody may be quote unquote taking a chance on you because your skills are out of date, especially if you’re doing it the do it yourself way.

Jean Chatzky: (15:22)
So what I’m hearing from you is that you may need to compromise a little bit. You may need to take a slight either step that is equal to where you were or a little below where you were when you stepped out.

Addie Swartz: (15:33)
And I think again, it depends on how you view compensation too because yes, I agree. But in today’s world, there’s so many other pieces to your compensation package. You know, in some places people love flexibility. If you can work 3 days from home, other people have 401(k)s or other benefits packages or bonuses or contributing to your prior education. If you’re a millennial and you just have a huge amount of student loans and you took time off, you still may have those student loans that are haunting you. Maybe there’s a program where they could pay those back. So thinking about your salary just as a salary alone I think is a bit narrow. It’s all about what the whole package is to start and then where is that going to take you six months from now, a year from now, two years from now. And if you’re thinking on the long term, stepping in and getting right back in is more important than, you know, perhaps maybe getting $5,000 less now because you might be doing something that you never thought you were doing before. Get trained in something new like cybersecurity or AI and that may catapult you ahead three years from now in doing, you know, and making much more money than you did before. So I do think that, you know, it’s all, we’re talking a lot about the pay gap and things like that. But if you’re somebody who’s returning, you need to get back in, get those skills back and then drive forward with new skills, new confidence, and then, you know, leapfrog two or three levels, which is what happens to our women all the time.

Jean Chatzky: (17:09)
It’s all about that confidence, isn’t it?

Addie Swartz: (17:11)
It’s all about the confidence. And what I like about the Reach Hire program is you’re not doing it alone. So we bring 10 women at a time or 15 women at a time into the same company across roles. They create their own little community and network and that is what is so exciting.

Jean Chatzky: (17:29)
The program is called Reach Hire. Addie Swartz. Thank you so much. It’s fascinating.

Kelly Hultgren: (17:33)
Thank you so much for having me.

Jean Chatzky: (17:34)
Absolutely and we’ll be right back with Kelly and your mailbag. Kelly Hultgren and our producer is with me in the studio. That was a great conversation.

Kelly Hultgren: (17:46)
It was, I think it’s wonderful that these programs exist and I think it’s so cool that whether you’re out for two years or 20 years, they’re partnering with these Fortune 500 companies to really create this pipeline to just increase women’s confidence because I think that’s at the root of us not being able to keep our pay and our titles and therefore not close this persistent wage gap.

Jean Chatzky: (18:10)
By the way, these Fortune 500 companies are not doing this as some sort of charitable endeavor. I mean there is a huge need for qualified talent and there is a lot of talent sitting on the sidelines saying “how can I get back in?” So when they do this they are absolutely benefiting from it as well.

Kelly Hultgren: (18:32)
It’s so cool. They’re absolutely, and we talked about that in the interview too and we’ve talked a lot before, like the root of all these gaps are confidence and confidence gap. So I feel like it just, it’s all working together. This is a solution that’s working to close that and therefore all the other gaps financially that we talk about.

Jean Chatzky: (18:46)
Way to go, Addie.

Kelly Hultgren: (18:47)
Yes. So…

Jean Chatzky: (18:49)
In the mailbag today…

Kelly Hultgren: (18:50)
Yes we have one from Janet. First Hi Jean and Kelly. Wondering if you can comment on the security of using password managers such as Dashlane and OnePassword and if you have one you would recommend. One final thing I would like to ask relates to using full view and she has in quotation marks on places like Fidelity and Schwab and having all of my investment savings and bank account info on each of these two sites where I have my investment account so I can see everything in one place. While it is very convenient to give me a total picture, I wonder how safe it is to have the info all in one place.

Jean Chatzky: (19:22)
Let me just tackle that portion first. When you’re dealing with big institutions like Fidelity, like Schwab, like your bank, they have bank-level security, the security is as good as it can possibly be. And so I would not be worried about this and this is something that I do myself. So if I was worried about it, I would tell you, I would tell you. I also use a password manager. I mean we use OnePassword, we like OnePassword, it’s very easy. I have used Dashlane in the past and I like that as well. But we got a new business partner and he really likes OnePassword and so I was like, okay, I can give in on this. And we made that switch. I think passwords these days are the most difficult thing or one of the most difficult things that we all have to manage. And having a password manager where you just have a single master password that helps connect you to everything else is one of those things that makes life a lot easier. And so I’m all for it.

Kelly Hultgren: (20:27)
Yeah it’s not just managing or by managing. For me it’s just remembering them. So I love it for it just taking away that space and that energy in my brain to remember all the different variations for all the different things. It’s really nice.

Jean Chatzky: (20:43)
‘Cause if you had to remember all of these, you couldn’t remember birthdays, you couldn’t remember song lyrics.

Kelly Hultgren: (20:47)
Exactly. So no, I’m a big fan of them too. Janet, next we’ll do one from someone who would like to remain anonymous. I enjoy your podcast so much and look forward to it every week. I really appreciate just how down to earth and genuine you both are, which was very sweet.

Jean Chatzky: (21:01)
That is very nice.

Kelly Hultgren: (21:02)
Thank you, anonymous. I am an average 35 year old chick living in an expensive town, Portland, Oregon, to be exact and seeking some financial revitalization. The cost of living is doable here, but let’s just say my boyfriend and I live in a shoe box in a tree. I went to college.

Jean Chatzky: (21:19)
Only in Portland.

Kelly Hultgren: (21:20)
I went to college but never graduated and yet I’ve always managed to hammer out away for myself working as many jobs as necessary to stay creatively fulfilled. I’m a musician and artist at the core and that’s just what we do. I’ve heard it said that we artists have to live below our means, whereas everyone else has encouraged to live within their means. To us artists, creative freedom is everything, but it is so difficult to feel at all free when you’re tied down slash ball and chained to both your job and your debt and a progressive but expensive town. It also seems unfair that we can’t have it all in quotes, so to speak, living, creating and retiring. I’m wondering if you could guide me in how to put some sparkle back into my life by discovering the best way to shake my current credit card debt. I have about $10,000 of high interest rate credit cards and high utilization. I’ve heard consolidation might be the answer. Is there a company or an organization you trust or perhaps the snowball method is best? I feel like I may never get out from under the mountain.

Jean Chatzky: (22:14)
First of all, I love your whole letter.

Kelly Hultgren: (22:16)
I know me too.

Jean Chatzky: (22:17)
But beyond that I want you to know that one of my money rules is live below your means period. And it’s not just for creative types. It is for everyone. We all have to live below our means because that’s the only way that you’re going to save anything. And if you live within your means, to me, that means you’re at the boundaries. You’re at the line and you’re not saving enough. As for that credit card debt, because you listen to the show, you know I prefer the avalanche method to the snowball method and I prefer it because it’s faster and cheaper. However, if snowball, and let’s just take a step back and tell people what they are if they don’t know. Avalanche is listing all of your debts from highest interest rate to lowest and paying them off in that order. Snowball is listing all your debts from smallest to largest and paying them off in that order. With the snowball, you get the psychic boost from paying something off quickly and there’s a combo that I did not come up with, somebody else did, but I think it might actually work for you and it might provide some of this revitalization that you’re asking for. It’s called the blizzard and the blizzard basically says, pay off something quickly to get that psychic benefit and then work from the highest interest rate on down. And before you consolidate using some kind of a loan, I would look at a balance transfer. I’d try to see if perhaps one of your credit cards will increase your interest rate enough to allow you to transfer your balance, or if there’s another card out there that might allow you to transfer your balance to get a zero interest rate for the next 15 to 18 months so that you can just wail on some of this debt. I think that once you start to see advantage, you’ll start to feel good about it and you’ll start to feel a little more energized about tackling the rest of it.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:21)
Now I want to think of another creative way to tackle credit card debt so we can name it.

Jean Chatzky: (24:26)
Okay.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:26)
Yeah.

Jean Chatzky: (24:27)
The flurry? The flurry.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:28)
Oh, I like that. That’s fun. Yeah. Yeah. All right.

Jean Chatzky: (24:31)
You tell me what it means.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:32)
Well, thank you Jean and thank you everyone for your questions. You can email them to us mailbag@hermoney.com. At HerMoney.com, you can also sign up for our free newsletters. This Week in Your Wallet and the HerMoney newsletter comes out Tuesdays and Fridays respectively.

Jean Chatzky: (24:45)
Thank you Kelly, and picking up where we left off with Addie, we’ve got some good news. If you’re looking for a new gig with benefits beyond just traditional salary, retirement and health, you may find that more employers are willing to offer work from home flexibility, which I was such a beneficiary of when my kids were little. According to FlexJobs, there is a greater than 50% increase in the number of remote jobs in just the past year and today 4 million employees, slightly more than 3% of the U.S. Workforce work from home at least half the time according to Global Workplace Analytics. And this is great news for everyone, even those people who are already working from homes. Over the years, I’ve heard so many remote workers talk about their flexibility as if it was the rarest of circumstances and how they’d put up with almost anything from their manager in order to maintain that status. Well, guess what? More companies are catching onto the fact that remote workers are not only happy workers, they’re actually more productive as well as the fact that companies can literally save millions of dollars on office space when they offer work from home options. If working remotely is a goal for you or has been a goal for you, then check out some tips HerMoney.com for work from home moms and for freelancers. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thank you to Addie for the great conversation. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Track Tribe, and our show comes to you through PRX. Join us next week when we’ll be back with the Crazy Coupon Lady.


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