The escalating battle for talent in the workplace is changing the hiring game and creating opportunities for job seekers we’ve been cultivating for the past decade – professionals looking for part-time or flexible work arrangements. Once a hard sell, especially to large companies, these overlooked professionals have taken on a new luster as the jobless rate has fallen below 4% and hovers around 2% for college-educated professionals. Companies can’t find enough qualified candidates to fill key positions and they are turning to sources that have been under the radar for years, including women and men who opted out of full-time positions due to lack of workplace flexibility. The time is now for these job seekers to get back in the game!
In 2010, my two business partners and I launched FlexProfessionals with the goal of tapping into the largely untapped pool of highly educated professionals (many working moms) who want to work in fulfilling part-time or flexible positions. The three of us had all had successful business careers, had each taken breaks from the workforce to focus on family, and had all been stymied as we tried to jump back in. We ran into the same obstacles – our networks had atrophied, we had big resume gaps and the infrastructure for finding rewarding part-time work was virtually nonexistent. The positions we fielded in our search for “part-time” were mostly “help wanted,” low pay, low skill, retail or telemarketing positions.
We knew hundreds of women like us who were frustrated and ultimately sidelined because of an inability to find meaningful work that fit with their family situations or caregiving obligations. So, we set out on a mission to unlock this underutilized pool and demonstrate the value it offered to employers. We spoke to businesses about the concept of employing part-time professionals and what we heard was consistent. Businesses did not know where to find them. But hiring managers also had preconceived notions about part-time or remote job seekers – that they lacked commitment, were unskilled and restless – and about moms re-entering the workforce – that they didn’t need to work, wouldn’t stay, had lost their edge. We knew better, but we had to create a market for this talent pool and prove it.
FlexProfessionals has been in business for almost twelve years and we’ve found a powerful market for part-time and full-time/flex professionals. For small to mid-sized businesses experiencing rapid growth, part-time professionals can be a “secret weapon.” These businesses need expertise in finance, human resources, marketing or other back-office functions to support their growth, but they can’t afford it or don’t need it full-time. Part-time professionals provide a smart and affordable solution. More recently, as the labor market has tightened, even big companies fighting over scarce talent, are looking at this candidate pool as a high-quality alternative source for their acute hiring needs. The professionals with whom we work don’t need training, have honed knowledge in their fields and have the practical experience to quickly read situations and get the job done. Yet, for them, flexibility and work environment trump top-dollar pay. Their value is extraordinary.
We’re seeing more and more companies of all sizes embrace seasoned part-time or full-time/flex (remote or hybrid) talent as an integral part of a cost-effective staffing solution. We have worked with hundreds of businesses and thousands of candidates taking advantage of this model. Our hope is that the growing worker shortage will shine a light on part-time professionals, create more opportunity to demonstrate their value and help re-engage and keep employees who need flexibility in the workforce.
Gwenn Rosener is co-founder of FlexProfessionals, LLC, a niche staffing company specializing in sourcing professionals for part-time, project-based and flexible work arrangements. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.