“Just because you had kids doesn’t mean you need to give up on your ambition. Women shouldn’t have to choose between a successful career or time with their family.”
Shares Elizabeth Willetts, the founder of the Investing in Women job board and community and a mum of two beautiful daughters.
Where others saw an obstacle, Elizabeth created a new opportunity.
After loosing her part-time job, Elizabeth was searching for a new role flexible around her two daughters. She soon learnt that to maintain family-friendly hours, she’d have to take a big step down in career (and a significant cut in salary), as there were not many good quality part-time roles available out there.
But she wasn’t prepared to comprise on her career nor her family. Inspired by her experience and compassion for other women facing the same problem, Elizabeth built on her skills in recruitment and now brings together UK’s most family-friendly forward-thinking employers and professional mums searching for their dream part-time or flexible.
To make her story even more interesting, Elizabeth decided to take the brave step and set up her job board and community during pandemic in 2020. Discover Elizabeth’s story, challenges and tips from her journey.
Where do you come from and where are you based now?
I am originally from Huddersfield in Yorkshire. I came down south to live in London straight after University – I wanted to experience the bright lights and live in a big, exciting city. I now live in Esher, Surrey.
As a child did you have a dream job?
As a child I wanted to be an actress. I studied Performing Arts at college. Ultimately I was worried I wouldn’t have the resilience to cope with the rejection and also lacked confidence that I was as good as my peers so abandoned that idea.
When and how did you discover direction for your ideal job, career or business?
I started working in Recruitment straight after University, 14 years ago. At the time I wouldn’t have said it was my dream job. I wanted to live in London and saw an advert for a Trainee Recruitment Consultant on the Prospects (a Graduate job board) website.
The earning potential specified on the advert and the types of clients I would work with sold the role to me, more than the role itself – I thought it sounded terribly glamourous.
How did you recognize your genius – what are you best at doing in your career or business?
I discovered I loved sales whilst working for a Recruitment Agency. I absolutely adored working in a buzzy office, making money.
I also loved feeling like I was really making a difference to people’s lives – knowing I was helping someone find their perfect job, and changing their life was an amazing feeling.
Likewise, I really enjoyed developing relationships with my clients knowing I was helping them to grow and transform their businesses.
What is your ideal job or position in business now? Why you do what you do right now?
I now run the Investing in Women job board and community. Investing in Women is a job board that only advertises professional part-time and flexible jobs. I founded it following my redundancy from my part-time role at the height of the Covid pandemic in September 2020.
I quickly discovered it wasn’t easy to find another ‘good quality’ part-time position. To maintain my family-friendly hours, I would have to take a big step down in my career (and a significant cut in salary, thus making childcare unaffordable).
Each time I mentioned part-time with a Recruiter, they quickly told me the role was full-time only, or worse, they ghosted me! I mean – how rude!
But my daughters were only little (2 and 3 years old). I didn’t want to miss all the precious milestones working in a full-time role. And so many mums (and dads) I knew felt exactly the same way! So I knew there was a whole section of the workforce that wasn’t being catered for and I was determined to change that.
As well as the job board, I also host weekly Lives with guest experts on LinkedIn and in my Facebook Group, Working Mums UK. Topics we discuss all have the sole aim of empowering more women to achieve their full potential in the workplace and ultimately crack that glass ceiling once and for all. Previous lives have covered pregnancy and maternity discrimination, how to budget for childcare costs, making a flexible working request and how to juggle fertility treatment in the workplace.
Work and life balance – what does it mean to you and how do you keep it?
Work-life balance to me means being able to complete my work around my family.
My family will always come first and I am fortunate that I can be there for school pick-ups and catch up on work in the evening. As a new business owner I do find it hard to switch off and relax which is something I hope to work on in the New Year.
What have you learned on your dream job journey? What were the most difficult things you had to overcome?
Learning to be brave and put myself out there on social media. I was so worried what my old colleagues would think of me. It honestly gets easier and I am so pleased I that I persevered as I am starting to have a real impact with my work.
How did you manage starting your business financially?
I used my redundancy money (and some savings) to start my business. I was super fortunate that my husband believed in my business as much as I did, and could afford to pay the mortgage without my incomings for a few months whilst my business got established and started bringing money in.
Which 3 tips would you give to someone who is right now considering changing jobs, career or starting freelance?
- To persevere – it does get easier.
- There is a huge learning curve starting a business or making a career change – take advantage of free trainings and read all the business books you can get your hands on.
- Don’t give up on your dreams! You are honestly just as good as anyone else, and I think the most successful people are actually the most resilient and creative.
If you’d love to connect with Elizabeth, here are some links for you:
Would you love help with career transition, improving your work and life balance or CV writing for your new role?
Author: AdriAna Kosovska
I work with women in 30s and 40s to help them to find and thrive in their dream career so their career not only looks good on the outside but also feels great inside.
Certified coach, founder of ZERO TO DREAM JOB and TALENTED WOMAN
Helping unfulfilled professionals and freelancers in 30s & 40s create a rewarding career