Getting back into the workforce after years or even decades can be difficult for anyone. While reasons for hitting the pause button on a career vary, for women, many do so to raise their children. A Pew Research study found 27 percent of working women have left their jobs at some point to care for their families.

While a long gap on a résumé can pose a challenge for professionals seeking re-entry into the workforce, some companies appreciate the experience these returning workers bring. Ford Motor Company is one. Ford offers a career re-entry program designed for experienced engineers and other tech experts who have taken a career break and want to rejoin the workforce.

Re-entry without burning up

“Ford focused on my career experience versus my career break, and I was able to return to my area of expertise.”

Ford’s Career Re-entry Program is open to professionals who have been out of the workforce for a minimum of two years — whether to raise a family, due to military service, relocation or other life events. Ford launched the program in 2017, offering six-month assignments in product development, information technology and manufacturing. Participants are paired with a mentor who offers advice and support, and they have access to professional development and networking opportunities. Successful completion can result in a full-time position with the company. Ford is looking to expand the program for 2018.

“Career re-launchers are an untapped resource for talent,” said Meeta Huggins, Ford chief diversity officer. “This program gives us a chance to build our talent pipeline, plus it’s a great way for someone to get the professional development and support needed to navigate their return to work.”

A different world

Kathleen Welch returned to work after a 20-year break. Shortly after having her second child, she realized there simply wasn’t enough of her to go around and stepped away from her job in information technology. When she was ready to return, her résumé showed 16 years of relevant experience, but it was two decades old.

“Starting my job search was a bit daunting,” said Welch. “You feel as though your time away and even your age may work against you.” Through Ford’s career re-entry program, Welch landed an assignment on the company’s information technology cybersecurity team working in data loss prevention.

“The re-entry program was really intriguing because it was the perfect opportunity for someone like me,” said Welch. “Ford focused on my career experience versus my career break, and I was able to return to my area of expertise.”

For Welch, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s set up so we can be successful,” she said. “We have training classes to come up to speed on things in the current environment, and we’ve had the opportunity to talk with some of the executives about their experiences.”

Welch said Ford’s career re-entry program has served as a crash course in how the modern office has changed over the years, and she loves having peers in different areas of the company. “I would definitely recommend to other people in my situation that they look at this,” she said. “It’s been a great opportunity.”

For more information on the program, visit corporate.ford.com.