Helping school-gate mums return to work

March 29 2018

TWO Bromley Heath mums have solved the issue of combining work and childcare by setting up their own recruitment agency.

Cathy Knight, 37, and Gemma Smye, 36, both found that their high-level jobs at national agencies weren’t flexible enough to fit around family life after they each had two children. 

Instead they have founded Isme Recruitment to serve professional businesses across Bristol and the surrounding area. 

Being their own boss allows them both to fit in school runs to Bromley Heath Infant and Junior schools, as well as attending school plays and sports days, around supporting their business clients and job candidates. 

Cathy, who already has daughters Ivy, four, and Edie, one, with a third daughter due in June, said the pair’s own experience of flexible working helped them understand the needs of their clients. 

She said: "We know exactly what it’s like to have commitments as a parent and the need for a career that can be combined with that. 

"In fact the very first person we found a new job for was another mum we got talking to at the school gates."

Cathy, originally from Frampton Cotterell, became friends with Gemma while they were both at The Ridings High School in Winterbourne, now Winterbourne Academy. 

They have remained friends ever since, even working together at recruitment agency Adecco for several years. Between them they have amassed more than 30 years of recruitment experience and plan to bring their knowledge to their new business. 

Gemma, who is mother to Esme, eight, and Annie, five, grew up in Mangotsfield and returned to the area after a stint working in recruitment in Australia. 

She said: "The advantage Isme Recruitment has is, unlike a big agency where the job of finding and vetting job candidates is left to junior staff, we have two very experienced management-level people and meet with every client. It means we get a great idea of whether they’ll fit into the organisation that is looking, so the business doesn’t waste time interviewing unsuitable people. 

"We can also be more flexible than a business that works a standard nine to five. We’ve met potential candidates in the evenings or weekends, so they don’t have to take any time off from their current job."

Isme Recruitment – the name comes from combining the pair’s eldest daughters’ names – is concentrating on providing staff for professional businesses, such as financial services, marketing, HR and IT. 

Vicki Finch, from Charlton Hayes, has been one of the first people to find a job through Isme, taking up a part-time role to work around parenting commitments. 

Vicki, who has been placed in a job as an insurance advisor at Glentworth in Bristol, said: "I was nervous as I hadn’t done anything like that for a long time but Cathy made me feel comfortable instantly and was 100 per cent professional and friendly. She let me know what to expect at the interview stage and made me comfortable when going to meet my potential new employer. The new job is a great reflection of my skills and she paired me well, putting me forward for the role and being successful with getting the job." 

Cathy said the way people search for jobs had changed in the digital age, but there was still no substitute for actually getting out and meeting people. 

She said: "When my daughter asks what my job is, my answer is simple. 'Mummy helps people to change their lives by finding them the right job'."