Ahead of Mother’s Day, Take the Interview spoke to two leaders in the talent acquisition space who chose to create their own paths after having children. Now successful entrepreneurs, these industry leaders reflect on what they’ve learned from motherhood, hiring, and the candidate experience.
Janine Truitt, founder and CIO of Talent Think Innovations, has a very busy life. The 10-year talent acquisition veteran and entrepreneur splits her time between taking care of her three children, growing her own business (which she says is like having another child in itself) and developing her presence as a thought leader in the industry.
“I have basically kind of tailored myself around my business and my responsibilities — I do as much as is reasonable without overfilling my plate,” Truitt said.
Truitt’s story is more common than you think, as working mothers remain a vital and growing entity in the talent pool. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.9 percent of women with children under the age of 18 were working in 2015 — representing around 34.2 percent of working women as a whole. That increase marks a paradigm shift since the mid-1970s, when less than 50 percent of mothers were reported in the workforce.
As the population of working mothers rises, the numbers suggest companies are moving at a slower pace when it comes to providing benefits for growing families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 88 percent of workers had access to unpaid family leave in 2015, only 13 percent of workers reported access to paid family leave, with six percent reporting access to flexible workplace benefits.
“To say we’re not making some strides, we are — but we can do better,” Truitt said.
Allison O’Kelly, a successful CPA and Harvard Business M.B.A, founded Mom Corps (now Corps Team), a boutique staffing firm that helps working mothers find the right opportunities, after having kids prompted her to look for more flexibility at work.
“To me, it’s a lot less about a formal policy and more about a culture of acceptance and making people feel comfortable with them,” the CEO and mother of three said. “I started this now 12 years ago, and I think it’s honestly changed so much. Most employers these days do understand that you need to have flexibility and that in order to get good talent, there are things they need to offer.”
For Truitt, accessibility to child care was one of her biggest priorities as a new mother.
“On-site daycare made my life so much easier,” Truitt said. “I knew I could shoot over and see them [my children] when I wanted to.”
Evolving technology has also allowed for more flexibility, with a larger focus on work-from-home options as a job incentive.
“We’ve evolved to a time where remote opportunities are not completely off-limits,” Truitt said. “For me, that was huge.”
Both O’Kelly and Truitt agree that the best way to find a good match is open communication between recruiters and candidates.
“It’s about making sure the company has what you need — do people work from home? Is the technology available to be able to do that? Does anybody have a flexible work schedule?” O’Kelly said.
“Having a child doesn’t hinder or stop you from having skills. If anything to me, it enhances it,” Truitt said. “Don’t be afraid to speak up.”
But companies also have their own limitations when it comes to flexibility. O’Kelly says that for recruiters, while it’s important to make benefits known, it’s just as important to be realistic on whether you can actually meet the needs of a candidate. If not, it just may not be a good fit at that point in their careers.
“To me, the number one thing for the recruiter is that somebody needs to be able to do their job,” O’Kelly said. “It’s an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work, and seeing if that works in your schedule.”
“If somebody is great and it’s not the right time, I think it’s the same with any candidate — stay in touch,” O’Kelly added. “I always say hey, do you mind if i check in in six months? Or set up an appointment to call them back and check in.”