Why M&Ms (mums and mature candidates) are a hidden talent pool

There’s a big pool of hidden talent that can help propel your growth.

With arguably more awareness of women and mature employee rights than ever before, why do mums and mature candidates remain a hidden talent pool who are relatively overlooked?

It’s no secret that mums and mature candidates present one of the most underutilised human resource groups in the modern workforce. We often hear M&Ms express that they find it difficult to find work. Contrary to popular opinion, we believe the problem does not lie entirely in employer reluctance to hire mums and mature candidates, the difficulty can also reside in M&Ms perception of what their role should be too. We believe it is the lack of flexibility from both parties which is the driving force behind the underemployment of M&Ms.

For example, M&Ms can often undersell their “other” skill sets, neglecting to talk up their “soft skills” or “life skills,” which are just (if not more) valuable to employers than ever before. They are also guilty of looking for permanent full-time roles, rather than short- or fixed-term contracts, which are a great way for both the employee and employer to get to know each other better. M&Ms can also price themselves out of the market by not looking for correct level of roles, whether that’s a more consultative role on the one hand, where companies can draw on their wealth of experience, or a more “junior” role where they can get their hands dirty and brush up on any skills they need.

In our experience, companies understand how valuable a mum’s skill set is; time efficient, excellent multi-taskers and prioritises, or who don’t waste time in unnecessary meetings, outcome and results focused, and therefore more productive than your average employee.

Similarly, companies see the value of a mature candidate’s skill set; wealth of experience, maturity, excellent stakeholder management skills and previous business trend experience. But it’s the practical reality of creating those flexible conditions, which is causing problems. A corporate company structure is not built to make a working environment more “flexible.” It can be difficult for a company to change the remit of a role for someone who wants more flexibility, simply because the role may require someone to attend meetings until late in the day for example.

In order to see change, a compromise is required on both sides – mums and mature candidates need to consider different types of roles and contract work, and companies need to look beyond the CV and continue implementing strategies to accommodate a flexible working environment.

Steps to creating a more flexible working environment:

  • Start with leadership. It’s less about a policy, and more about the day-to-day culture and work place environment. Often, if HR has a seat at the leadership table with a CEO who is tuned in to daily culture and work place environment, the company will practice what it preaches. If not, it’s much harder to make it happen on a day-to-day basis.
  • Action family-friendly policies. Companies should take proactive steps to better integrate mum and mature age candidates into their workforce and facilitate family-friendly environments. Regular assessment of these programs should be conducted to ensure they are fulfilling their purpose.
  • Use a specialist external recruiter. While most in-house hiring managers are willing to be flexible where possible, they can have a subconscious bias to hire the “ideal” candidate with the exact prescriptive qualities that match their brief. With this in mind, a specialist external recruiter is best placed to source strong mum and mature age candidates.

Mark O’Connor, Co-Founder, Perceptor

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