“If you don’t want to work hard, I can’t help you.” The words stung as they spilled out of the mouth of one of DC’s leading search firm executives. It did not matter that I had an advanced degree in engineering, a Harvard MBA and 15 years of work experience. The fact that I was searching for a part-time position, in his mind, was a non-starter. I was not worth his time. I sheepishly left his office feeling guilty, humiliated and mostly misunderstood.
That day and those words helped launch FlexProfessionals. They helped crystalize in our minds the opportunity employers were missing by overlooking this misunderstood talent pool. After almost a decade of recruiting and placing seasoned professionals into meaningful flexible positions (part-time or full-time/flex), we have come to understand the qualifications, motivations and exceptional value these candidates bring to businesses, especially small growing businesses. Let’s start with some statistics…
Of the 25,000+ candidates who are seeking part-time or full-time/flex positions through FlexProfessionals in the DC and Boston metro areas:
- 98% have bachelor’s degrees.
- Over half have master’s degrees or advanced credentials including MBAs, CPAs, JDs and PhDs.
- More than half have achieved a position of Director or higher.
- Most are seeking part-time, hybrid or remote positions to help balance work and caregiving needs for dependent children and/or elderly family members.
These are not characteristics of prospective employees who “don’t want to work hard.” On the contrary, these candidates offer advantages that go beyond their professional credentials. Specifically, many of the businesses with whom we work say that what sets this talent pool apart and makes them worth hiring are:
Staying Power – Candidates in this pool know that good part-time or flex work is not easy to find, so when they find a quality position that offers flexibility, they stick. Their motivations often differ from traditional full-time job seekers. They are in a place in their careers where they want to use their skills, be productive and contribute to a mission they believe in, but they are not seeking a job as a training ground, or a stepping stone or a path to the top rungs on a ladder. They have “been there and done that” and have proven track records to show for it. Increasingly we see small businesses turning to this pool to bring some stability to a restless workforce that is focused on the “next thing”.
Bargain Expertise – Our clients have used terms like “rock star”, “life saver” and “gem” to describe candidates in this pool and are frequently amazed at the immediate impact these resources have on their businesses. These candidates 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 top dollar pay is not as important to them as flexibility and work environment, so in many cases, their hourly rates or required salaries are a fraction of traditional full-time employees. As one small business owner whose core staff is made up of part-time professionals puts it, “these are talent levels that I could not afford otherwise.”
Hyper Focus – Our candidates must have 10+ years of work experience to register with us, so by definition they are “mature”. But with that maturity comes something highly valued by our small business clients – “No Drama”. These candidates have a job to do in a reduced period of time and they are hyper-focused. They don’t waste time with gossip or water cooler talk. With a decade of experience, they know the core values of a professional work environment including responsiveness, respect for others’ time, follow-through and a can-do attitude, characteristics that are not a given in today’s workplace. They are results focused and in many cases, our clients tell us, get more done than the full-time staffers do.
Hyper focus, bargain expertise and staying power translate for employers to improved retention, productivity and lower staffing costs. We’re seeing more and more entrepreneurial and small businesses embracing seasoned part-time or full-time/flex professionals as an integral part of a cost-effective staffing model. So what do we tell our prospective clients about this talent pool? “If you want someone who will work hard and so much more, we can help you!”
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.