MUM'S THE WORD
Mums the word.
Written by Vicky-Louise Garratt
You know how it goes, you join a recruitment company and on day 1 in most companies you will be given a tour of the office and introduced to the other consultants within the business. I remember in my first recruitment role, I had to introduce myself individually to around 70 consultants which took me the best part of three days.
It’s always the usual questions, how old are you? what’s your background? have you worked in recruitment before? etc. Then comes the dreaded part where I disclose that I am a mother of 3.
Each time I tell someone at work about my home life, I am consistently met with the same old jaw drops, raised eyebrows and looks of judgment.
Apart from the odd male consultant, I have only ever encountered two other female consultants that were also parents, and one of those people worked part-time. I think the major lack of female mothers within the industry makes it difficult and sometimes awkward to tell my colleagues that I am in fact a single mother with 3 children.
LIKE OIL & WATER - KIDS & RECRUITMENT DO NOT MIX
The old school recruitment culture demands bums on seats from 6am to 9pm. In my first business, it was definitely frowned upon if you had the audacity to get up and leave the office at 5:30, regardless of whether you’d completed all necessary tasks for that day. Unfortunately, this meant me being frowned at on a regular basis as I left each day (on time) to go home and start my second shift as a mother.
Working from home was never an option then, so if I had a meeting with the kid’s school for e.g. I would need to book annual leave. In fact, my entire annual leave this year has been spent on appointments for the kids, hospital visits and a boiler installation.
I feel the general consensus within our industry is; how can anyone be successful as a recruiter and be a single mum at the same time?
Well, that’s a question worth answering!
IT’S ALWAYS A BALANCE
The truth is, that I love working and I enjoy living a nice lifestyle. My eldest child has just entered her 4th year in private education and recruitment makes this all possible. The problems start when for example, like today, I had a call from the head teacher at my 6-year-old twin boy’s school, asking me to come in on Wednesday for yet another meeting.
Luckily the company I work for, Ignata, offers a flexible working scheme, but without this support, I would surely be another career mum that is an absent fixture in her children’s lives (not the look I’m going for).
Equally, during a two week period when I had my boiler installation and various hospital appointments happening, I gave my company something tangible to show them that I wasn’t taking advantage. They’d given me several work from home days so that not everything came out of my annual leave and also let me flex my hours on several occasions.
It was at that point when I took it upon myself to take my manager to the side, thank him for being so flexible but also acknowledge to him that I knew it wasn’t feasible to be out of the office so much. I offered some balance by letting my manager know that my job was hugely important to me and then followed that up by letting him know that for the next two weeks, my kids would be with their dad so that following all of that time off, I could wholly commit myself to work for the rest of the month. (The kids were in Turkey for the first week on holiday anyway which helped) but this is exactly what my boss needed to hear/see from me at that time. Thus balance was restored.
DIGITIZATION EMPOWERS THE WORKING MUM
The bottom line is in 2018, who needs to be chained to the desk anyway? Recruitment is such a thriving industry at present and there seems to be a new agency popping up every other day. As the demand grows for good recruiters, the candidate pool shrinks. But if businesses started to look outside of the norms of talent attraction that would change quickly.
We now have the option to log into our company databases from almost anywhere in the world, including our phones. We can access all of our emails remotely and reach out to candidates and clients without having to actually be in the office. That is the beauty of digitization and therefore the more companies that get on board with allowing staff a more flexible and remote way of working. The more employees they will be able to attract and retain!
NO ONE LIKES A CULTURE CLASH
Why shouldn’t single mothers or just mothers for that matter, have the opportunity to have a fruitful career? I would argue, that the skills gained in raising a child, along with the high levels of emotional intelligence that most women have coupled with our need to make money for our families, make us ideal to work within the recruitment industry.
One of the reasons I have felt so content in my current business is largely due to the culture that has been created by our MD Denise Richardson. We have several female leaders in my business, including our CEO Saira Demmer. It’s these women that are largely responsible for the flexible, forward-thinking culture that I have the pleasure of working in every day.
In a previous business which was solely run by men, with not even a single female manager or Director. I was consistently made to feel bad about attending any parent-related events or taking time off when my kids were sick etc.
Life is so short, family is important! I missed my son’s sports day once because I put my job first that day. I still regret that decision and will never make another like it. These are the days you can never get back. My advice to any recruiter, parent or not, is to find a culture that meets your needs and vice versa or recruitment will be miserable for you!
NOW MAKE YOUR MONEY GIRL!!!!
Once you find the right business, with a modern mentality and a flexible culture, the money is there to be made! When you are happy, feel valued by your manager and your company and are given the trust, autonomy and tools needed to do your job. You will not just do your job, you will do an exceptional job! It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Children or career. Home or work. You really can have it all!