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Lucy Cooper talks to Workingmums.co.uk about WM Recruit, a recruitment agency which focuses on flexible roles across a range of head office main functions.
Lucy Cooper has found two jobs on Workingmums.co.uk. The first was for a video production company and the second is setting up and running WM Recruit, a recruitment agency which focuses on diversity, flexible working and female talent.
The agency, which works in partnership with Workingmums.co.uk, launched in June and currently covers London and the south east, focuses on flexible roles across a range of head office main functions. The link with Workingmums.co.uk means it is uniquely placed to source talented and experience female professionals to employers, ensuring they get the right person for the job – regardless of working arrangements. It aims to build long-term relationships to maintain continuity and provide businesses with a more intuitive service for future placements.
Lucy’s work involves working with a team of consultants to introduce and recruit new candidates, building up the candidate database, growing brand awareness among employers and speaking to employers about the business case for flexible working. “Many people tell us that when they go to the big consultancies and these are not set up to help people who want to work flexibly. There’s a lot of relief in their voices when they talk to us,” she says.
She adds: “A lot of companies offer flexible working such as time off for special events, but they don’t package it that way. Many roles, although not all, lend themselves to working from home a couple of days a week, compressed hour or agile working. Technology enables more flexible working, but few advertise jobs as being flexible. Even if someone has been working reduced hours and their role becomes free, it is often advertised as full time. In a tightening job market where talent is at a premium, employers are missing a trick if they don't offer the kind of roles growing numbers of highly skilled candidates are looking for to keep them in or return them to the workforce."
Lucy says the more committed senior staff are to diversity and flexible working the more responsive they tend to be to what WM Recruit is trying to do. The current media focus on diversity is helping too as is the fact that several companies are becoming interested in mum returners as a huge talent pool waiting to be exploited. Current roles she is working on include a range of solicitor roles in home counties-based legal firms, senior marketing positions, engineering roles and part-time training roles.
Lucy understands only too well the demand for flexible new jobs. Originally from Australia, where she was working in hotel management, she came to the UK in 1994 and started working in recruitment. She worked in the City for nearly 15 years and left in 2006 to spend more time with her children, who are aged 11 and 13.
To get back into recruitment, she spent a couple of years recruiting from home doing around 12 hours a week for a company on commission. The family had just moved from south London and were doing up the house in Surrey they had moved to at the time. That meant they had to move out for five months and live in a rented property which had poor internet reception. “I had to string things up to make it work and sit at a 45 degree angle with my arm up,” laughs Lucy. “It was quite challenging.”
She decided she wanted to work in an office and found a job on the Workingmums website doing HR and recruitment for a video production company. It was initially a six-month contract, but she ended up staying for three years when she felt it was time to move on.
She was looking around for another job and ideally would have liked to have begun in September after the school holidays. However, she saw the WM Recruit job while browsing the website. “I had worked for a fantastic company in the City for many years. I had a brilliant career,” she says. “When I stepped away I did not think I would be able to find everything I wanted. I didn’t want to commute and be out of the house for 12 hours. I wanted to work from home or nearby so I could take the children to school and be there for them in the afternoon, but I wanted to use the skills I had and work at a certain level and earn enough to make it worthwhile.”
The WM Recruit job was an opportunity she could not pass up. She spoke to Gillian Nissim, the founder of Workingmums.co.uk and found they had shared values about work life balance and how everyone has a different definition of what that means for them. “I felt I had a real passion for what WM Recruit aimed to do,” she says. “It’s not about enabling every mum to work part time from home as that doesn’t suit everyone. It’s about giving people the ability to choose the flexibility that works for them.”
Although her role is full time, Lucy can flex her hours, for instance, ringing candidates in the evening which might be better for them as they may be able to speak more freely outside of their workplace. She can therefore be around when her children come home from school. She tends to do administrative work outside core hours.
It’s her ideal job, allowing her the flexibility she needs and letting her use her skills, but it is also something she feels passionate about. She hopes that passion will translate into helping hundreds of other women – and men – find the jobs they want which given them the work life balance they desire.
*Whether you are a candidate or business looking to recruit talented, flexible professionals, call Lucy on 020 3727 3000. To register with WM recruit or find out more, click here.