A new website to help parents back into estate agency careers while seeking a work/life balance is proving a big hit.
The Daisy Chain was quietly launched a few months ago and is the brainchild of Louise Deverell-Smith, herself the mother of three children, and the wife of estate agency recruiter Andrew Deverell-Smith.
However, the Daisy Chain has a very different model from that of recruitment websites.
Users do not fill in any CVs, but simply post profiles of themselves and what they are looking for in a role – for example, they might be willing to job share, work term time only, work one day a week only, or be freelance.
Employers ‘like’ any profiles and can then make direct contact.
There are so far 1,500 user profiles on the site, while employers who are supporting the initiative include the likes of Knight Frank, Savills and Marsh & Parsons.
Although Deverell-Smith says the site was not specifically aimed at mums wanting to find a family-friendly way back into work but at dads too, realistically 96% of the profiles are from women.
The site is monetised by employers paying a yearly subscription to access as many profiles as they want. They pay anything from £250 (for small agencies with ten or fewer branches) to £6,000 if they have 200-plus outlets.
The idea has taken off partly through social media, partly through word of mouth, and partly through the active support of some celebrity mums, including radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman.
There is also plenty on the site beyond employment prospects to keep its users engaged – there are blogs on family life, keeping children safe online, and fashion tips.
Users can keep their profiles on the site even after they have found work – they can simply update their profiles to say they are not currently available.
The idea has caught on beyond its original estate agency remit: law, finance and fashion firms are also among the employers who have registered on the site to try and solve their recruitment headaches in a world where parents with experience and skills simply do not want to work ‘normal’ working hours.
Results so far have been encouraging: one woman landed a job with property manager firm Rendall & Ritner that far exceeded her hopes in terms of both salary and the hours she thought she would have to work, while the firm itself reached a candidate it would otherwise not have known about.
Deverell-Smith says that not forcing users to write a CV is a major feature of the site: “A CV can be a big psychological barrier. People tell us that writing a CV is an uncomfortable experience, particularly if you’ve been out of the workplace for a few years. Besides, all CVs say the same things, so it’s hard for employers to differentiate between candidates.
“Our users have embraced the idea of writing their own profiles, and really explaining who they are, what their interests are, and what they are looking for. And that seems to have caught on with employers too.”
Deverell-Smith says the site at the moment is somewhat London-centric, but she thinks it will roll out organically as word spreads. There is also to be a further push when the site is updated in January.