Companies Need Creative Hiring Solutions To Attract Talent

I just took a web design survey. It took me less than four minutes, if that, thanks to the multiple choice options and easy questions. What slowed me down was the chance to speak up about women, driving long distances to work and single parenting.

There is no shortage of web design/development talent. There is, however, a shortage of companies who want to hire talent, understand the value of well-rounded skills and are flexible enough to accommodate their needs. There are three companies I can think of off-hand that I wish to chuck my work at home self-employment life for. Two of them have sent their recruiters to me four times. Each time, as much as it frustrates me, I turn them down.

I can do what I do best from here. I have the software and equipment, and am one of the most self disciplined home office workers I know. I love working off-site and am extremely fond of team projects. But, I live one and half hours (one way) from companies worth dropping my tax deductions for.

I have no interest in paying $3.00 a gallon in gas to get there. Three hours of driving every day, on a day where no major traffic tie-ups occur, is not in the cards for a parent who has kids active in school and sporting events. When I did commute to my IT jobs, I was a single mom. Dinner was at 7:30 pm and the rest of the evening was devoted to kids’ homework, house related work, and staying up until 1am teaching myself more skills, checking my Yahoo club, and freelancing in SEO on the side.

A giant company in California knocks on my door periodically. How cool would that be? Working for a cutting edge company? I’ve done that before and it was the best experience working with brilliant people everyday. But I turn them down because I’m not a twenty-something relocatable potential property. They have other offices, but they’re also in big cities that are too far away.

Who decided the best and brightest workers live in cities?

Why do Internet software companies fail to encourage telecommuting? With the technology available, this is absurd. We can remotely view and test people using websites but can’t consider hiring employees who need or want to be home-based?

More and more men are tiring of spending their adult lives driving to and from work. They’re being pressured by society, and women, to spend more time with their families and communities. Employers pay lip service to their male employees about being flexible. When a man wants to leave early, skip a day to watch his kid do something or even race home when the school nurse calls, he’s suddenly “not one of the team” anymore. His ratings drop because, sadly, he exposes his desire to be with his family.

There’s a stigma to this that requires serious change by companies interested in holding on to valuable employees, men or women.

I’ve experienced vile hatred from women who have no clue what being a single parent is like. These are women who are career driven and “sacrifice”, for them, is no time for self, let alone children. You just put your kid in a box somewhere and go to work. Period. This is why I needed to bring my son to work with me when he was in second grade, on the way to get X-rays for his broken collarbone that he got on the school playground. I was afraid I’d lose my job if I took time off to care for him.

This is what the career ladder can be like for parents. I was one of the few women on an entire floor of IT men. I needed to be there, no matter what. And, I loved the work, so I wanted to be there. I just didn’t feel a child had to suffer so I could be one of the guys.

The survey was about a career in web design. The questions were basic. They don’t shed light on sacrifices or choices made to further one’s career. There were related industries to web design that weren’t represented, other than there being the dreaded “Other” option. Accessibility design wasn’t highlighted. Or persuasive design. Or marketing for search engines.

I’m always asked for referrals for “web designers who know accessibility and SEO”.

The survey hit on age and gender. I know I’ll be in a minority. I know my average earnings for last year are far less than what I used to make working for a big Internet firm. I’ve never been able to replace that kind of income, though I work just as many crazy hours.

The survey doesn’t visit the home office of a barefooted consultant with a dog lying nearby and the sounds of birds coming from the open windows, or me as the working mom waiting for the daily cell phone ring tones of her kids, waiting to be picked up or driven somewhere next.

I’ll be there in “just a few minutes” is music to their ears and a luxury no big company looking for hot talent seems to understand about persons like me. We’re here.

You have to come to us now.

7 thoughts on “Companies Need Creative Hiring Solutions To Attract Talent”

  1. I’m amazed how many companies still have a very narrow vision of a “good” employee. I personally have a diverse background, and consider it to be one of my strengths, but so many HR people look at a resume and, if they can’t instantly see a story that fits their preconceptions, they pass on it. Having hired people, I realize it isn’t easy, but there are some really talented people out there who get overlooked because they don’t fit the mold.

  2. Easy questions? In some cases, they’re only easy if you’re American I think :)

    Wasn’t quite sure what to put down for education, I completed ‘school’, and got a bunch of GCSE’s, and I have an HNC qualification through college. But I have no idea how that compares on the American education system. So I get the impression that any stats for education outside the US will have no meaning.

    Also, there was nothing about marketing at all, no SEO/SEM, or anything about the whole social side of things.
    If you’re doing front end development, I think it should be essential to have some understanding of SEO and how the code you write effects that, how the URL’s whatever system you produce will affect that etc…

  3. Ah, I so know what you are talking about. I did the single-mum, kids-in-childcare, ahhhhhhhh!!!! lifestyle for a few years, but since I (remarried and) had my third, I’e been working from home.
    I love working here, and occasionally I think about going to town every day for what I laughingly call a Real Job. I’ve run the figures and I’m not happy with the possibilities :(
    So, home I will stay for a very long time.

    Telecommute? I do a lot that way, but there are also a lot of companies who will not consider me, even though I tell them that I am more than happy to come in once a week (we’re an hour and a bit from the CBD by car and public transport combo) and more than happy to spend the first month in the office.
    Ah, well. Life is good right now :)

  4. I completely related to this post. I, however, work in an interactive agency that understands that things come up in daily life that prevent you from being physically in the office. I have had a couple occasions so far where my babysitter has gotten sick or something has arisen at home and I need to work from my home office. The bottom line is I get my work done and my employers understand that. It’s so refreshing! My last employment was in the non-profit sector and my husband was deployed to Iraq, so I worked a couple days from home and worked out amazingly well. NBC recently did a story on this phenomenon and focused on ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). It shows that many companies are coming around on this issue.

  5. Yeah, why do companies resort to ‘profiles’ of good employees anyway? If I was HR for them, wouldn’t it be easier to just give out some assignments and see who does what and how well they perform? Talk about prescreening!

  6. Kim,
    That was … AWESOME! I just loved that post. I got more and more excited as I was reading it, and your parting line was just perfect.

    If it weren’t for being able to work at home, I couldn’t earn money, due to health problems. I can work a 14 hour day from my comfy home office, tea on the desk and slippers on my feet, but there’s no way for me to commute and be an office worker without wilting like a tired lettuce.

    Thank the Lord for the Internet. It means I can keep a roof over my head, be with my husband, take a walk on a sunny afternoon and keep my brain healthy and sharp for my clients. Yay!

    Wonderful post.
    Miriam

  7. It’s great that you raise this point. Employers never seemed to have any problems hiring me until I had kids. It still makes me sad and emotional when I think about it. What I’ve also noticed is that a big part of the problem lies within recruitment agencies (at least here in the UK), where they can only put forward a limited amount of candidates – those who can’t (or don’t want to) do the daily commute literally get ‘discarded’.

    The truth is that within many women there is great potential and talent just waiting to be discovered. With skills becoming harder to find, employers would be daft to not come to us.

    I choose life :)

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