Stay At Home Parents: An Untapped Resource?

Parents and careers don’t often mix well. In recruitment, you’re likely to spend a lot of time on the phone. And the thought of trying to make a BD call while an upset baby screams in the background would make even the best recruiter shudder.

It makes sense then for parents to make a choice when the stork knocks at the door.

1) Send the stork packing and ask how it got your address with GDPR clearly not working.

2) Perhaps more popularly, decide one of you will stop at home to take care of the new arrival.

In the UK, that’s statistically likely to be the mother. For probably a year, a parent will put their job to one side. They’ll work harder and experience far more emotions than before. They just won’t further their career.

Once that initial year’s over and the itch to talk to real adults becomes too much, what’s the next move?

Do you continue to forgo your career? Are you able to return to work, on a part time basis? Do you look for a different career path? Do both parents swap places and take turns at childcare and career?

With a rigid employer, it’s Hobson’s Choice. And one reason for this is the astronomical cost of childcare.

Even if the SAHP (stay at home parent) decides to go back to work as soon as possible, there’s a gap in the CV. One child normally equals one year. More children means more time off work.

And so it’s become in the UK, and countries all over the world, starting a family means career disadvantages.

Career disadvantages with a slant towards one gender means disparity. Disparity creates discrimination. And so it continues.

As someone who doesn’t have kids, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that’s a choice. But, is there an opportunity for recruitment to bridge the gap. To make the choice easier?

In my opinion, yes. A huge opportunity. For everyone.

Father Child

Everyday’s a School day

There aren’t many people who could juggle a job and a baby.

Taking an eye off the ball with a youngster could quite easily cause disaster. Literally speaking, I wouldn’t suggest anyone juggle a baby, even if that was their calling.

But as a child grows and is of ‘daycare’ age, opportunity arises. An opportunity where part-time hours could be more than achievable.

So, the question’s this:

What’s to stop a recruiter working part-time?

Many companies now allow flexible working. Lots allow working from home. And plenty of businesses are thinking in new ways about commission, salaries and remuneration.

Given the outright meritocracy of the job, is there not a huge chance for mothers and fathers to work from home, in between their duties as a parent? Could they even make more money than having to travel to the office needlessly? 

Let’s look at facts that support this parental utopia…

“A recruiter’s schedule depends on the recruiter”

Every day’s different. That’s what most recruiters will tell you when describing their career. What they mean of course is: every day comes in a different order. In reality the role of a recruiter’s fairly uniformed.

Some days you start with candidates. Others you’ll be chasing a job. You might have a period of emails or hit the phones. All in a different order, depending on the status of various roles.

This variety would work well for parents. Some days you sleep through the night. Others you’ll be up at 5 cleaning sick up off the curtains… how did it get on the curtains?!

If you do the most crucial work first, you’re never in threat of missing anything based on the time of day.

“I could fill any role I work”

Most recruiters think this. Otherwise they’re probably not true recruiters.

I haven’t been a recruiter for three years and I could still fill any role. And if you’re staring down the barrel of no income, you’re on a shot to nothing. If I was a single parent, stuck at home, I’d back myself pretty strongly to bill.

I’d even recruit for free. Or at least, take no salary.

And there’s strong evidence that the majority of women who call themselves ‘stay-at-home mothers’ contribute income to their families, and a good proportion work quite a bit.”

Why wouldn’t this work in recruitment? 

Working on purely retained mandates you could add a sizeable injection to your income. Agree to a schedule. Work in the time afforded to you and make placements without the worry of completing pointless KPIs.

You’d also eradicate a huge loss of dead time through retained work.

And there are plenty of people out there who can teach you how to win retainers. Meaning you’re getting paid while cleaning those curtains, as you think of a great job ad to sell the client.

“There are many cogs to the recruitment machine”

Candidate generation. Business Development. Account Management. Marketing. Ad writing. HR. Accounts.

You can do all of these yourself obviously.

But agencies are starting to see the benefit of splitting roles between Consultants. Some work on a 180 basis. Some even on a 120 basis.

And splitting the job up like this would work wonders for someone who’s time-short.

If you’re a whizz with BD, you could blitz through phone calls and meetings in the middle of the day and get back in time for the school run. Or, rattle through a list of candidates ready to send from 3pm onwards.

Even if you worked a full 360 model, and received a salary, the resourcing model would work nicely. All the leg work’s done and you simply deal with clients.

“My client moves too fast for me”

Ever heard anyone say this?

Me neither. We push clients. We push candidates. We move things along so roles are filled. I’ve never once heard a Consultant moan their client or candidate’s moving too fast.

Therefore the pace of recruitment is determined by the recruiter.

Meaning, if you need to be away from your virtual or literal desk, for a few hours every day, that’s not going to be a major problem. And for times you are, there are such things as mobile phones now.

Rejoice.

“Technology gives you more time in a day”

In the UK right now, there are 232,000 fathers opting out of work. I’d assume most of these don’t just look after kidsIn their schedule is undoubtedly a little free time.

The output of a recruiter’s only limited by the amount of hours in a day. We write a regular technology series with productivity in mind. You can do most of the legwork a recruiter has automatically. You can get auto notes from phone calls. From meetings. AI powered email insights. Information on any client and their email address at the flick of a finger. There’s no end.

This means for tech-savvy recruiters, there’s no reason you couldn’t look at technology as a PA.

Time is money. Nowhere is that more true that recruitment. And watch shops.

What’s your motivation?

The Recruitment Directors of old were all too happy for me and my colleagues to spend my commission quickly and frivolously. Because there’s no motivator like the need to get paid.

Whilst a potentially unethical practice, on the face of it, it’s probably true. Those that simply have no alternative but to succeed tend to be more driven and strive to succeed.

Is there any greater motivator than a living, breathing, curtain-ruining ‘mini-me’ sat in front of you?

Probably not.

Parent Kid

Stats

The employment rate for mothers increased by 11.8% from 1996 to 2016. And over 75% of unemployed mothers say they intend to return to work at some point in the future.

Yet, as it stands this group represents the lowest employment rate of all adults in the country. Specifically those with a dependent child aged three or four years.

This means, if this equation could be solved, UK GDP could be 5 per cent higher. And that number merely represents the female side of the problem.

It’s obvious to me there’s a huge opportunity in recruitment. But that chance lies at the feet of agency owners and individuals themselves.

“How do you find recruitment agencies that flexible?” I hear you scoff. Glad you asked, you can check out this list or simply take a look at Expand Executive Search based in Brighton, New York and Berlin who take this kind of thing on board.

Zoe Harris says “The flexibility around my hours makes a huge difference to my work/life balance. It shows the company has confidence in my ability, which in turn makes me more motivated. I love being able to get more time with my little boy.”

So, it’s possible. All you need to do is find the right place. And if that place doesn’t exist for you, why not create it?