When you think of candidates, you think of graduates or mid-level executives wanting to make a career switch...but there is one special group of candidates often overlooked; and these are the superhumans juggling multiple responsibilities: being a parent and an employee.
We spoke to Simon Gregory, Managing Partner from GPS Return whose main mission, together with his wife, Miranda Gregory is focused on helping parents return to work. Read on to find out more about how Return all started, why what they do is so different from other agencies and how Vincere has been helpful for their business.
Vincere: How did Return start?
Simon Gregory: It started with my wife Miranda, she decided that after four and a half years of being a full time Mom that she wanted to return to work...but many recruiters were saying “sorry, you’ve just been a Mom for 4 years, what other experience do you have?”, which left Miranda feeling pretty disappointed and frustrated.
And then when we start talking to our friends, we realized actually that Miranda’s story was quite a common experience for people returning to work or people looking for more flexibility in a job.
We realised that this wasn’t the recruiters themselves, the recruitment companies were driving recruiters so hard that they didn’t have time to focus on people like Miranda who were returning to work - it’s understandable, they would rather work on filling a job that makes a 10k fee.
So when we started to look at it, we realized that actually there's a lot of full time parents Moms and Dads out there who were either thinking about returning to work or have decided that actually they don't want to return to work because of the attitudes that they face from not just recruiters, but also also potential employers, so we decided to do something about it.
Vincere: What’s the vision for Return? Any plans for the future- short term and long term?
Simon: In the short term, it’s obviously getting the business established. The key thing we’d like to do is make this notion of ‘parents taking a few years out to look after young children and then return to work’... we want make it a completely normal thing. We want to make it completely normal for companies to understand that things like flexi time or reduced hours, should be completely normal…& actually as an individual looking to return to work my experience should be no different from somebody who's moving from job to job.
We find that moms and dads who return to work, they are so much more committed to the job, more devoted to the company that has given them the opportunity and flexibility. In fact, Ernst & Young did a study a couple of years ago where they showed that Moms in part time roles are 22% more productive than non-parents in part time roles simply because they're so much more focused. They have these hard deadlines which they have to hit and so making sure that companies out there are aware that hiring the best talent is what truly matters is a goal for us. Our mission is to normalise the current perception of parents returning to work amongst companies and employers.
Vincere: What makes GPS Return different from the other recruitment agencies helping people get back to work?
There are companies in the UK who are giving a lot of coaching and advice to people returning to work. But as far as we know, we're the only company that's offering the full recruitment service - from coaching candidates to helping them develop the skills they need to return to work. We’re also working with companies and walking these candidates through the recruitment process. At the same time, we also walk the companies through the recruitment process. Too often we find that companies have not even thought about hiring someone part-time.
We work closely with candidates before sending them out to companies in the area. We typically spend 3-4 hours with each candidate before sending them out. This includes coaching sessions where we understand what their priorities are - is it money?...is it career? Is it working hours or location that matters?
We get to know our candidates extremely well and we do build up quite a deep understanding of who they are and what they want to do. We know that they are putting an awful lot trust in who we are and what we do. I don't think you'll find many candidates that say that they trust their recruiters wholeheartedly. I don't think many jobseekers would say that they can do that.
To be honest, the level of trust they are putting in us is not something that I'm not used to. So with that comes a lot of responsibility and thinking involved when it comes companies that we go out to.
We often have to coach the companies as well. The onboarding process has to be a lot more thorough. Companies need to take the effort to make them feel a lot more welcomed and reassured that they have made the right decision. We find that by doing that little bit of extra is going to result in so much more productivity, so much more engagement down the line.
Vincere: What are the common challenges returning-to-work parents face and what kind of help/advice can recruiters like you give?
The lack of Knowledge is the classic one - whether they're an accountant or a lawyer or in marketing. The regulations and the knowledge of the industry specific knowledge does move on quite quickly. So if you are a marketing manager and you've been out for four years, knowing the different kinds of social media and the potential of each platform would have moved quickly, and it really all depends on what you have done to keep up with the times.
However, if it's something like computer skills then various local government bodies in Yorkshire do offer free training courses like how to use Excel. A lot of the advice that we're giving people is encouraging them to start off by volunteering with charities, or working with the PTA at the local school - just trying to get involved as much as possible. It’ll show employers that you're actually actively keeping up to speed with the regulations and the guidelines that come into place.
Vincere: How has Vincere helped your business? Is there a particular feature that you really love?
The Instant Job Board is brilliant and it’s the best thing about Vincere so far.
Just the fact that I can alter the settings and play with it without having to talk to my web developer is super. For the people that I’ve spoken with about our website, they don’t notice that it’s actually a separate site, it feels just like naturally part of my website, which is great.
I've just enjoyed Vincere this last year since we have been using it and that's a lot down to the way that the product is about been developing over the last 12 months. The changes made to the system have all been good changes and they all seem to make sense. Also, the customer service has been top notch. I don't think we could have gotten any better attention from any other provider. So overall I’d say it has been an extremely pleasant experience for me.