By Alice Gainer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A years-long gap in a résumé is usually a red flag for potential employers, signaling someone who’s been out of touch and may have rusty skills.

But there are a growing number of corporate programs aimed specifically for this group that are catching on, with new employment opportunities, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Tuesday.

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Kathryn Zaharek and Linda Piper had both been out of the workforce for about four years.

“I was in my late 50s and I thought, great, how am I ever going to get a job at this point?” said Piper, now a senior analyst for Johnson & Johnson.

“I had a series of events that was almost like the perfect storm. I just came to the realization that my family needed me more than I needed to be working,” added Zaharek, a senior project manager for Audible.

When both were ready to get back to work, they found no takers.

“I could have considered myself retired,” Piper said.

“It’s almost like you’re thrown away if you’re out of it for too long,” Zaharek added.

Though they were aggressive about networking, each eventually found a less conventional way back in.

“I really felt like you know that movie, “The Intern,” Piper said.

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Actually, the program that helped them both back onto their career track is called “Returnship.”

“We’re helping people like, bring the skills that they have developed in the past, and put them back to work,” said Anne Erni, Chief People Officer at Audible. “The folks that have joined our program have been out of the workforce from two to 13 years.”

At Johnson & Johnson, Liz Markus oversees the Returnship program, called Re-Ignite.

“It’s about coming back to the career that you started in, and dusting off those skills and relearning maybe a few nuances that are new to that market in that industry,” Markus said.

Both companies are embracing the experience of those who have stepped away, and are committing resources like training and mentors.

“It could be a career break for taking care of your children, taking care of parents or loved ones that maybe are ill. Also breaks for things like going into Peace Corps, or starting your own business,” Markus said.

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Employers say, prior, similar experience is a must for being considered for a Returnship, but add life away from a corporate world has value, too.

“This is an incredible opportunity to show women and men who choose to opt out that they can return, and they can return and have successful, highly paid careers,” Erni said.

Programs are about and months and pay close to full salary. If the candidate is successful, an offer is made at market rate.

“A huge relief. Right up to the very end, I didn’t know that I was going to be hired,” Piper said.

“Now, it’s up to you to really step up and show what you can do,” Zaharek said.

For more on Returnships, please check out the following links:

Path Forward

iRelaunch

Audible

J&J Re-Ignite

Alice Gainer