Above: Karen O’Reilly, Employmum who was the Winner of the Emerging New Business catagory sponsored by The Montenotte Hotel at the Network Cork Business Women of the Year Awards in the Fota Resort. Pic: Darragh Kane
Karen O’Reilly of Employmum took home the award for Emerging New Business of the Year at the Cork Businesswoman of the year Awards last month. Network Cork presented the award to Karen for her clear business plan and effective use of media.
Based in Clonakilty, Employmum is a recruitment agency that specialises in finding flexible work solutions for parents returning to the workplace.
“I joined Network Cork a year-and-a-half ago and I found it really supportive, as I was on my own when I first started the business,” says Karen. “It’s a very non-intimidating group for women in business.”
“It was very stiff competition so I’m delighted to win the award, it’s a great honour,” says Karen.
A qualified accountant, Karen started Employmum two years ago. “When I first started it was because I saw the need for a flexible recruitment agency but it has grown to so much more than that,” explains the mum-of-two. “We realised that a lot of the women we were speaking to had been out of work for a long time and as a result had serious confidence issues so many of them needed some career or life coaching, so we now have a panel of coaches supporting us around Ireland.”
Employmum deals mainly with two types of candidates. “There are women who have been out of work for a number of years rearing their families and there are women and men working working in high-powered jobs, putting in 60 hours a week, and looking for a more flexible position,” explains Karen. Twenty per cent of Employmum’s placements are men.
Employmum has over 2000 candidates on its database.
“We’ve started running free back-to-work workshops so we can reach a wider audience,” says Karen. The workshops focus on the practical tools to get women back into the workforce. Confidence, networking, interview techniques and CV preparation are all covered.
At present, the workshops are run in Cork but Karen plans to open a new office in Limerick before September, which will facilitate workshops there too. “I’ll be in Dublin by the end of the year,” she says confidently.
“We know we can’t find work for all 2000 candidates but at least we can offer them the tools to find work elsewhere. Sixty per cent of jobs are found through networking, which is something that people forget,” says Karen.
Part-time, remote work, job share, term time, compressed hours, annualised hours, ROWE are the types of flexible roles filled by Employmum, which has an impressive 93 per cent success rate of matching candidates to employers.
“We’ve seen a big shift in employer’s attitudes in the last two years,” says Karen. “We’re reaching almost full time employment now in Ireland and flexible work is a feasible option in most types of roles, especially as there is a big talent shortage in certain areas, for example accountancy, IT and engineering. Employers are realising that if they offer some degree of flexibility, they’ll widen their net and bring in candidates that may never have looked at the company.
“We advertised recently for a legal secretary with five to 10 years experience. It was a part-time role, 30 hours a week, and within 12 hours we had 128 high calibre candidates. We were able to choose from the crème de la crème. If we had advertised the same role, but fulltime, we might have seen eight or nine candidates.
“There are 400,000 women in Ireland who state their role as home duties. We carried out a survey and 91 per cent of them said they would work if they were given flexibility. There’s a huge untapped talent pool out there.
“We have some nice accountancy roles at the moment – financial controller, audit senior, accounts payable, all Clonakilty-based. We’re also looking for an office administrator for a role in Skibbereen and an accountant for a position in Kinsale. We have a lovely remote job as a technical sales person where you can work from home
“We’re also very excited to launch our Back to Work Programme in conjunction with our partners DePuy Synthes and their Re-ignite Programme,” says Karen. “These returnships offer women networking opportunities, a supportive work environment, access to internal mentors and external coaches during the programme, and of course, relevant experience to update your CV.”
Employmum has been chosen for the ‘Going for Growth’ programme sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG so Karen is ready to take on the world next year.