Business Achievers: Karen O'Reilly and Employmum

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Our latest Business Achiever is Karen O'Reilly and Employmum. We asked Karen to tell us a little bit about her recruitment-focussed business and about her business journey to date. Read on to find out more in Business Achievers: Karen O'Reilly and Employmum.


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Give us the background to your business 

In 2013, I moved back to Ireland after living abroad for nearly 20 years – with my two children, then aged 6 and 8, starting into new schools from a French upbringing, I wanted to be there for them to do the homework etc. My husband works abroad in the oil and gas industry, so I really needed something flexible to work around my family life.

As a qualified accountant, with 20 years professional experience, I naively thought I could find a flexible role – when I discovered there were very few flexible roles available and no agency offering to help me, this was my lightbulb moment and Employmum was born.

For the first two years I ran the business on my own – with a very limited budget, my role involved everything from sales and digital marketing, building a website, recruitment, accounting, admin and general office dogsbody. Luckily in 2017, I was able to bring another person in Cork on board.

Local girl Helen Walshe from Barryroe does all the recruitment now so I can focus on growing the business and the strategic side. We also now have an office in Limerick with Fergus Chawke at the helm and Anne O’Gorman runs our East Cork branch.

Our main business is recruitment and with over 4000 high calibre candidates registered with us, we can offer an employer a quality service.


Recommended reading: Business Achievers: Joanne Sweeney and Digital Training Institute


What is different about Employmum compared to other recruitment businesses?

Employmum is a flexible recruitment agency – we find flexible work for professional candidates – the types of roles we recruit for are part time/job share/term time/remote work/compressed hours/annualised hours and project work.

These roles can allow parents to continue with their careers, particularly women, who tend to be the primary care givers in the home.

We also have a panel of life and career coaches that support us as we found that many women lacked in confidence when re-entering the workforce – to reach a wider audience, we also run free Back to Work workshops.

We also help companies with their flexible work strategy and have developed a flexible work toolkit which we can modify for every organisation. We understand that one size does not fit all with regards to adopting a flexible work strategy and we can help.

Employmum also support companies with returnship programmes – a returnship is like an internship but for people who have left their careers for some time and now want to get back into the workforce.

We have also designed a FLEXIBLE QUALITY mark called FLEXIT which we award to companies who are truly offering flexible work and not just lip service to the idea. This award allows companies to advertise the fact that they are open to flexibility – a unique selling point in the war for the talent at the moment.

Savvy employers are recognising that in an era of nearly full employment and the war for talent, they can gain the competitive edge by accommodating flexible work.

The best business tip you've ever received?

Always always pay the tax man!!!

Any advice for other business owners?

Always always pay the tax man???!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

We are very excited at the moment as we are developing a new brand to sit alongside Employmum. As over 30% of our placements are male and many of our candidates are not parents, not to mind Mums, despite our name, we realise that flexibility in the workplace is more our mission now more than jobs for professional Mums, as it was in the beginning. We will soon be launching our new brand where we aim to reach a wider audience of candidates and clients.

We currently have offices in West Cork, Cork and Limerick and aim to have a Dublin office open soon. We have plans to expand globally with a new cloud platform that we are building at the moment.

With 55 million women at middle management not working at the moment (according to a recent KPMG report), there is a huge untapped resource out there!

What does business achievement mean to you?

Money has never been a huge motivator for me – my greatest job satisfaction to date was placing a lady who had been out of work for 15 years to mind her children. She also had a special needs child, so really was devoted to her family. She found herself in a position with 20 hours to spare in the week and really wanted to return to work. We helped her re construct her CV and with some coaching from one of our brilliant life and career coaches, she nailed the interview and got the job as a senior materials buyer, right back at the level she had come out at 15 years previous.

We are a small company, but we pride ourselves in offering a highly professional service and we really look after our clients and candidates.

Employmum is also extremely proud to be spearheading the flexible work revolution in Ireland and making a real difference to peoples’ lives.

Where can people connect with you and your business?

You can connect with us via our website: www.employmum.ie or on all social media platforms Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

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