‘Going part time in recruitment meant taking a pro rata pay cut’

Computer, Black and white, desk, marketing


Jennifer Herbert has worked in recruitment for over 17 years and steadily rose through the ranks to achieve a senior management position in charge of the UK recruitment operation of a leading global accountancy firm. Following the birth of her two children in 2008 and 2010, Jennifer was put ‘at risk of redundancy’ on both occasions during her maternity leave.

Although she survived both redundancy programmes, Jennifer found her role increased significantly each time and that she had to absorb the additional work of some of those that had been made redundant.

Following the birth of her second child, Jennifer returned to work part time to find that she was in charge of the whole of resourcing, but with a greatly reduced team. Without any support, training or mentoring from the board, and an overwhelming amount of work on her plate, Jennifer had no option but to increase her hours. Regardless of this fact, Jennifer’s workload continued to increase and she found that she was consistently having to work late. In April 2015, after a long discussion with her husband, Jennifer decided that her current job was just not sustainable given the overwhelming list of responsibilities and long hours, so she handed in her notice.

Two months later, Jennifer secured a part-time Recruitment Manager role for a small software company specialising in HR technology solutions. Although she is now earning half pro rata than she used to, Jennifer now works school hours and term-time only and is ultimately delighted that she is able to spend quality time with her two young children.

“It was a really difficult decision to leave my former company where I had been with for nearly nine years, but I felt I had no support, training or mentoring to help me progress my role and the goal-posts kept moving whenever there was a change in the Executive team.”

One day a week homeworking
Jennifer joined her former company in 2006, as an experienced Hire Manager and enjoyed her role for two years before she went on maternity leave, in 2008, to have her first child. When she returned to work 10 months later, her initial request for flexible working was turned down. Following a series of meetings with her manager, however, they eventually agreed that Jennifer could work at home on Fridays.

“When I returned to work from maternity leave the first time, I was given a particularly senior role and was expected to manage a huge part of UK resourcing with a very slimmed down team as so many had been made redundant. This was a bit of a shock, as I had originally wanted to work part-time. In the end, I had an enormous amount of work to take on and had to absorb part of the role of two or three people. I rose to the challenge, nonetheless, and although I was on my own in a stand-alone role without any training on how to write recruitment policies, for example, I just got stuck in and did as best I could. I had to negotiate to get my one day working from home, but it was worth it.”

Two years later, when Jennifer went on maternity leave to have her second child, she returned to find her role was, once again, at risk of redundancy.

“Although, I didn’t make the hit list, the second wave of redundancies meant that when I returned, I had been put in charge of the whole of UK resourcing, so the responsibilities involved ultimately made it impossible for me to work part-time, three days a week, as I had initially hoped. To manage my workload effectively, I consequently went up to four days a week, with Fridays off, but had to work even longer hours, regardless to get things done. I continued on for another three years, but as the job got bigger and more unsustainable, I realised that it was not doing me or my family any good to continue as I had been doing.”

Jennifer lives in South East London with her husband and two children of five and seven years old. Originally from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Jennifer graduated from Warwick University in 1995 with a BA (Hons) in History. After initially trying roles in retail management and travel consultancy Jennifer started her recruitment career in 1998, at a leading agency, where she remained for over five years. Jennifer went on to take a senior management position at another leading recruitment agency where she led the research team and managed the training programme for over 100 employees within the Finance Divisions across the UK.

“I have always loved recruitment and am proud that I have reached the very top of my profession. I have successfully managed numerous teams and fully understand the many different aspects of the job, so it is a bit of a shame that I have had to take a new job and a pay cut in order to secure a part-time role that really does mean manageable part-time working hours. However, I am very happy in my new job, and to be working for such a forward-thinking company. They have given me a great opportunity to grow the role as the company expands, and I am delighted to be spending quality time with my children at long last.”

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