Headhunter Mom Corps helps moms find jobs
Jessica Mencunas was three months pregnant last fall when she was laid off. She had not yet disclosed her pregnancy, and she found herself unemployed at a time when it’s traditionally difficult for women to change jobs.
"I actively looked for work during my pregnancy,'' said the 36-year-old Smithfield, R.I., resident, "but it became more difficult as I got bigger and bigger.''
Enter Mom Corps, a nontraditional headhunter that specializes in flexible, family-friendly work for at-home moms. Marketing, human resources and accounting jobs are the agency’s niche as it places clients in part-time and telecommuting positions. Three years old, Mom Corps is based out of Atlanta, but has branches across the United States, including Boston.
Mencunas landed a contract position at LFI, a Smithfield medical device and aeronautics manufacturing company. Beginning four weeks before her baby was born, she worked part-time as a human resources professional. She returned to the same position after her maternity leave, and recently became the company’s director of human resources.
Mencunas works 20 hours over four days each week. Two of those days, she works from home. In retrospect, she said, losing her job last year turned out to be a good thing.
"I had the opportunity to figure out what my requirements were, so I could be happy and have a balanced work/life scenario,'' she said.
Today’s workplace is more poised than ever to accommodate flexible working arrangements, said Nadia McKay, vice president of sales for Mom Corps.
"The whole marketplace is learning,'' said McKay, who has two children, ages 5 and 7. "To get and retain your best candidates, you’re going to need to be flexible.''
Clark Waterfall is managing director of Boston Search Group, an executive search firm. He said for many companies, offering nontraditional employment opportunities to mothers re-entering the work force makes sense.
"There’s a tradeoff. Let’s say you have a part-time employee, working remotely,'' he said. "They’re not under your thumb and not full time. But the upside is that you have usually a more experienced, and on balance, more loyal (employee). You get better accountability. There’s a level of maturity around decision making, and the ability to handle things.''
Nita Mentz of Franklin, who works part-time as an online researcher for Boston Search Group, agreed. "There’s a new work ethic,'' she said. "New college graduates think nothing of sending personal e-mails and instant messages, and having their cell phones on. I think that we’re more serious workers.''
Mentz, 43, has an eclectic background. She’s sold insurance, owned a hair salon, worked in a design firm, and calls her resume, with its lack of a career track, a "disaster.'' For her, it was helpful to have an agency find an appropriate job match, and has been able to put her diverse background and many interests to good use in her current position. She works 20 hours a week from home, and goes into the office once a month.
"This is the perfect job for me,'' she said. "I will do it until I stop working.''
Mentz said she doubted she would have been able to find such a position on her own, however.
"Everyone talks about virtual workplace and globalization, but those jobs are almost impossible to find,'' she said.
Staffing agencies, like Mom Corps and 10 til 2, can take some of the stress of job-hunting away, since candidates already know that targeted companies will be receptive to part-time or flexible work arrangements. In addition, there’s a lot job-seekers can do on their own:
- Understand your skill set.
- Know your strengths, and recognize that some skills – customer service, for example – can translate to other positions, like human resources.
- Update your resume.
- Take courses to brush up on your skills and fill gaps in your resume.
- Network – tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job.
- Think through your requirements for flexibility. Do you need part-time work during school hours? Do you want to work from home?
- Consider using a staffing agency specializing in flexible arrangements.
- Be sure you’re serious and ready, and that your plans fit with your family priorities.
Despite the trend toward family-friendly employment, some companies remain resistant to flexible work arrangements. Kip Brockmyre, president of LFI, the Rhode Island manufacturing company, says there’s no need for that.
"Employers lose out,'' Brockmyre said. "If you want to micro-manage people, you’re going to lose out on the opportunity to keep some of this talent. Look at your HR policy and figure out how to make this work, because it’s really not that difficult.''
McKay, of Mom Corps, agreed. "These workers are efficient, smart, educated; companies get so much out of them if they can just work with them.''
The Patriot Ledger