SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — If you have gaps in your resume or have been out of the workforce for some time, Sanford Health might just be looking for you, for a new type of job it's dubbing a "returnship."

The health system has launched the new pilot program aiming to attract back workers who have been out of the workforce. It’s all part of the health system’s need to fill its job roles in a region where unemployment is so low, it's often hard to fill out a full staff.

"This program gives people with gaps an opportunity to tell a different story," said Brad Schoenfelder, Sanford senior executive director of human resources shared services.

The currently available returnship positions are in marketing and communications, finances and human resources, currently all based in Sioux Falls. The 12-week pilot program will include 400 hours of paid work experience, flexible scheduling, professional development opportunities and skill gap analysis, with extra mentorship and coaching.

Pay will be comparable to what the applicants would be earning in a full-time, similar job, Schoenfelder said.

The hope would be that those selected for returnships would prove a good fit for permanent job at Sanford, but if not, the returnship experience should hopefully help a participant obtain a job elsewhere.

"I think it kind of gives both sides of the equation a chance to try things out," he said.

Schoenfelder described the ideal returnship candidate as someone out of the workforce for 24 months or longer (former military excluded from that condition) and a degreed professional with an established work history.

"We want to reach out to all of those individuals who might be interested in working at Sanford and try to remove those obstacles that might prohibit them from becoming an employee," he said.

A member of Sanford human resources team heard about the returnship idea at a conference, and brought it back to Sanford. It's all part of Sanford's goal of finding innovative ways of filling its open jobs, including reaching out to college and high school students, Schoenfelder said.

"Every employer has to do something to set themselves apart to make sure they're getting the best and the brightest of the community, and part of this program is finding people we know are out there: friends, family of ours, knowing someone who can do a good job," he said. "We're always looking for innovative programs like that."