Anne Zacharias had a successful corporate sales career — managing a $130 million budget and supervising a staff of 85 people at a billion-dollar company — before taking time off to raise her children.
She has since rekindled her career, and now spends her days helping companies and universities access an important talent pool: Workers, usually women, who temporarily stepped back from their working lives the same way she did and are now ready to successfully “relaunch” their careers.
“We consult with companies on how to connect with this talent pool,” says Zacharias, who serves as director of business development for iRelaunch. “We guide them on how to bring the talent pool back and onboard them, and make them feel welcome so that they stay.”
Helping companies work successfully with these workers is the primary mission of iRelaunch. One of their key insights is that experienced workers who resurrect their careers are perfect candidates for paid internships. A company gets to test out a new employee, while the worker gets paid to try out the company.
But the organization’s other mission — supporting the growing community of “relaunchers” by sharing valuable advice and helping them connect with one another — is just as vital.
Relaunching “can be very lonely,” Zacharias says, “and it doesn’t have to be.”
Founded in 2007 by Carol Fishman Cohen, who experienced the challenge of relaunching her own high-powered career after having three children, the iRelaunch community now includes about 65,000 people globally. It’s the largest community of relaunchers in the world, Zacharias says.
Though the company is based in Boston, the management team all work virtually and from various locations around the country. And they all have experience rebooting their own careers.
Zacharias opened iRelaunch’s Pittsburgh office a little over a year ago and she’s excited to see the community growing here. In the past year, iRelaunch has held a range of hiring events, including a “RetuRN to Practice” information event for nurses in collaboration with Allegheny Health Network and a return to work event at the headquarters of the Cranberry-based safety company MSA.
The main resources offered to job-seekers are free, including blog posts on relaunching and job hunting, an extensive library of podcasts and a weekly media roundup that points job hunters toward relevant articles.
iRelaunch also offers a supportive community of local Facebook groups. Beginning this month, Pittsburgh’s iRelaunch private Facebook group will plan face-to-face gatherings, so members can share ideas and encourage one another in person.
A job hunter seeking more support can also get referrals to experts including certified career coaches or experienced resume writers. If she or he decides to hire a recommended career coach or other expert, they would pay that person directly. iRelauch earns no money from the transaction.
The only offering with a fee is the Return to Work Roadmap. This five-step program is “a roadmap product that really walks people through the process,” Zacharias says. It tackles subjects like making the most of your time away from work (the right volunteer work can keep skills growing and help highlight them on a resume), choosing a next career path (many relaunching workers reassess the work they truly want to do, Zacharias says) and the importance of effective networking.
All of this can help returning job seekers “feel equipped and feel supported,” Zacharias says, opening the door to what could be a fabulous second act that brings seasoned talent back into the workforce.