Interview with Sarah Broad from Attune Jobs
Find out how a discussion about firms missing out on female talent led Sarah Broad to launch Attune Jobs – a job site specialising in part-time and flexible law and accounting vacancies.
What’s your career background?
I have worked in HR and recruitment for over 20 years. I have spent 10 of those years coaching internally and externally, predominantly in professional services, insurance and tech firms including Ernst & Young, BDO and Yahoo.
I am a qualified coach and a Chartered member of CIPD. In this time, I developed significant expertise in flexible working, managing flexible working teams as well as a rising number of employee requests for increased flexibility.
After being made redundant after my first child, I freelanced between children and it was only when my second started school I decided I needed to go back to work on a more formal basis.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I was catching up with a former colleague (this is where keeping up with your network is advantageous) and we were talking about firms missing out on talented women and senior women like ourselves reentering the workforce after children.
The demand for flexible working is high by employees and potential employees for a number of reasons so we wanted to match that demand with like-minded businesses.
However, we were keen to avoid the obvious female angle as 37% of our job seekers are men and if it becomes the norm for both men and women, this can only be advantageous and more acceptable by businesses and employees alike.
We decided we would give it a go and start a jobsite offering part-time and flexible work in an area we both knew: law and accounting. It was an opportunity I could not turn down – an opportunity to run a business, work the hours needed (this does sometimes go into evenings and weekends) and still have time for my children which is very important to me.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
I did a lot of research. I wrote a business plan, prepared a budget and P&L and then had to take baby steps. I have learnt a lot along the way but it is surprising how many skills you use that may just be a little bit rusty.
What’s your USP?
We are the only job site dedicated to supporting part-time and flexible working vacancies for business services functions in law and accounting firms, including:
- Secretarial, PA, administration jobs.
- Finance jobs.
- HR jobs.
- IT jobs.
- Marketing and business development jobs.
- Other general and bespoke roles.
We recognise that working patterns are changing and demand is high. We want to give candidates better access to high quality part-time and flexible roles and provide clients with highly skilled candidates who may otherwise have been missed because of their flexible working requirements.
We think the ability to have the ‘flexible’ conversation early on in the hiring process can only be beneficial to both parties – we only ever advertise genuine part-time and flexible working roles so open and honest discussions can take place from the offset.
Who’s your target audience?
Anyone with the above skills but who is also looking for part-time and flexible work. It doesn’t have to be for caring responsibilities, more and more we are seeing employees want to work flexibly because they have their own business, writing a book or training to swim the channel!
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Social media, speaking at events, blogging and good old fashioned networking. Partnering with other businesses has also worked for me, it helps with sharing of ideas and reciprocating support. If you are working largely on your own and you are a social being, this is really important.
How do you balance your business with your family?
Flexibility is key, although I have set days and times I can and want to work I also work around my clients. Luckily, I can decide where I work whether it is home, the office or even a coffee shop!
I measure my productivity and not where or how long I work so I can still be there for my children. I also rely on a great friend network as and when I need it and then I reciprocate on those days that I can do school pick ups etc.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Getting my head around the IT and digital aspects to the business has been challenging. It is not my strength so I have had to rely on others to support me in this plus researching and attending webinars.
What are your three top pieces of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Breathe regularly and don’t sweat the small stuff!
- Focus on one thing at a time, so you are not distracted by all the minute of running your own business.
- Be proud of what you are good at, if it works for you keep doing it, and if it doesn’t spend less time on it. Have confidence in not following the crowd, just because someone else has had good experiences with e.g. Facebook Ads, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.
You can find out more about Attune Jobs on their website.