New recruits

Lysha Holmes is passionate about working mums and works to persuade her clients to take them on. spoke to her.

The recession has changed mindsets in the recruitment industry as it starts to realise that a long hours culture is not the reason for its ability to weather the economic storm, says Lysha Holmes, a recruitment specialist who champions flexible working.

She says: “We have survived so far and we can see that the reason we have survived is not due to doing 12-hour days. Sticking close to our clients and being very accountable is why. Things are still tough, but we are becoming braver about issues such as work life balance and trends that the recruitment industry sets are followed by other sectors.”

She adds that the recruitment industry has had a reputation for being inflexible. “It's a very long hours industry. There are the core hours plus meetings in the evening or early morning meetings because that is when you can get hold of candidates. I did that for six or seven years,” she says.

Six years ago when she set up Qui Recruitment which specialises in high-level placements of recruiters in sectors such as IT and finance her daughter Isabelle was 10 months old. She had been a top recruitment consultant before her pregnancy and had been managing a team of four, but was told she could not go part time. She decided to take a year out, but people were asking her why she didn't set up on her own so she decided to give it a go.

“I was very clear on the hours I wanted to work, but with Blackberries you can send emails at all hours and spend time with your children,” she says. Lysha now has two girls, the youngest of whom has just started school. She uses a childminder and her mum for childcare.

Championing working mums

She is keen to promote working mums in her business. Two of her directors are working mums and since May she has placed four experienced recruiters into recruitment agencies, mainly in the Northwest.

One she has placed is Melanie who comments on Lysha’s Linkedin page: “I was probably not the most straightforward of candidates as I was looking for a part-time job in recruitment and these are few and far between. Lysha had a great knowledge of her client base and was extremely pro-active in identifying suitable clients to speak to, which resulted in me finding my current role within a matter of weeks.”

Lysha says she hopes that her approach will have a trickle down effect on clients by showing that flexible working can benefit business, although she says it may not be suitable for all sectors.

She works from 8.45 to 3.15 Monday to Friday and often in the evenings if she has to. Her reward to herself is to have the school holidays off. She is based at home in Bury, but meets every candidate she works with face to face. They all come via recommendation.

Lysha says she believes that, working part time, she is a “fantastic role model” for her children. “I asked my daughter what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to help me because I help people to get jobs. She can see that I love my job. My mum didn't work – she didn't have a choice. It's good for children to see their mums working. I think if mums can get the right work life balance their children get the best of both worlds.”

She says: “Working mums tend to work smarter and are motivated. I get as much done in six hours as most people get done in a full day,” she says. “It's encouraging that there seems to be a trend that working mums are probably one of the best assets companies have. They are not interested in office politics. They need to earn and they tend to see work as a bit of a break. They are used to multi-tasking so they make good business people. Before I had children I thought I worked shrewdly and at a fast pace, but now that I have deadlines to meet over children I work much more intensely and efficiently and I never miss a deadline.”

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