In 2020, ageism in the workforce is still alive and well. Further, many hiring managers do not seriously consider applicants who have stepped out of the workforce for more than a few months. Now, add a global pandemic to the mix. It’s safe to say that it’s a stressful time for women over the age of 40 looking for work after a long break. One company is tackling this challenge head-on.
The following is an interview with EvolveMe’s Cofounders, Judy Schoenberg and Linda Lautenberg.
Julia Wuench: Why did you found EvolveMe?
Judy Schoenberg and Linda Lautenberg: We founded EvolveMe to give women in midlife the program we wish we had when we were in transition. We know firsthand that navigating career change can feel overwhelming and unachievable. We’ve been there. Linda returned to work after an 18-year break from a successful finance career and Judy returned to work after taking a break from a national non-profit executive role.
We knew there were so many women in our position and yearned for a like-minded community that wanted a next chapter. When we founded EvolveMe, we wanted to make the process fun, rewarding and doable — not isolating and frustrating — so women could stop spinning their wheels.
Wuench: Why focus on women over 40? What’s different about this demographic?
Schoenberg: There’s so much opportunity for women over 40 but we don’t see that celebrated in our culture. In midlife, women bring an invaluable combination of skills, wisdom, judgment and life experience to the table.
The women we work with want more meaning and flexibility in their work. They want to get off autopilot in their careers. They want work that fits into the rest of their lives rather than the other way around.
Wuench: What makes EvolveMe’s programming unique? What are the most common issues or problems women come to EvolveMe with?
Lautenberg: EvolveMe’s special sauce is the group experience which is core to our programming.
Collaboration, community, and accountability propel women forward into their next chapter. Others see qualities in you before you’re ready to see them in yourself.
Our signature virtual 8-week training experience, the Reinvention Collective (starting mid-October), is highly interactive and engaging. And we need connection now more than ever!
Women come to us when they’ve been searching for work and sending out resumes with no results. They want to pivot careers but feel lost and directionless. Or they want to return to the workforce but don’t know how their skills add up to a paid role in today’s market.
Wuench: Women’s professional lives and dreams of returning to the paid workforce have been upended by Covid-19. Do you see this with the women you work with? How can EvolveMe help support them now?
Schoenberg: Women we work with are feeling the squeeze between managing remote work/job search, kids home for the summer and homeschooling this fall. Some are caring for older parents. Many women have lost confidence, especially if they’ve been out of the workforce for a long time.
We all need a plan. EvolveMe gives women the structure, community, and tools they need to be ready for new opportunities. And with remote work, there are more options now than ever.
Wuench: What’s the number one thing women can do this fall who are returning to work from a break, furloughed, laid off or want to pivot careers?
Lautenberg: The number one thing that women can do this fall is get clear about what they have to offer right now. This is an inside job — women need to own their value before updating resumes and coldly sending them out into the ether (very few people get jobs that way).
The advantage in midlife is you’re not starting from scratch. Tap into transferable skills, shine the light on your accomplishments and find your voice with a refreshed career story — these are critical aspects of career change. Start with YOU — and the rest will follow. We promise because we’ve been there!