There’s no doubt that recruitment is challenging work and one that appears to leave little time for the ‘life’ aspect when it comes to balance.
As a Director at Michael Page’s Melbourne office, Melanie Wallace-Smith knows a thing or two about juggling a demanding role with raising a family. Her path to leadership reflects the importance of taking control of your own professional future and a company that values flexibility and work/life balance is therefore key. Page’s dynamic approach to work has enabled Mel to be present for key family events yet still provide candidates and clients with a consistently high level of service, no matter the hour.
Mel attributes her success as one of the agency’s top performing recruiters to being super competitive, with a healthy dose of resilience built up over the years on the job. “I feel like I have finally worked out the right blend of work and my personal life. It took me a while to get it right, but whether it is work or precious family time, I am 100% focused on the task at hand and leave no time wasted.”
Along with her in-depth knowledge of the finance market built over the past 10 years, Mel is a strong advocate of the candidate and client experience and the high levels of customer service she provides. “One of the main frustrations within our industry when people are working with recruiters is a lack of communication. Whether it is good news, bad news or no news, communication is a key part of the relationship and providing valuable feedback to both clients and candidates is so important,” she says.
Mel is happiest when challenged and working and this, in turn, makes her feel that she is a better and confident mother in the long run. “It is important to me to show my daughter she can have a career but that you need to work hard to have a good life; all these toys and nice things she has didn’t just appear.” In addition to this, it’s also important to Mel that her daughter knows that when it comes to the weekend, the time she spends with her is quality one-on-one time. Additional work is completed when her daughter is asleep or mid-week.
“Page has been great to me through this transition into motherhood and I think it is really important to have a trusting relationship with your manager,” she says, adding: “If you are working hours out of the office, there needs to be a certain level of trust that the same output is still met, just sometimes at unusual times.”
She also notes it’s crucial that changing family circumstances are discussed in the workplace when one returns from maternity leave, because “if you don’t ask, you don’t know what flexibility means to your employer and it is important to be on the same page from the outset.” Mel points out that the change required doesn’t need to be major, whether it be flexible working hours, a job-sharing role, a reduction of tasks or even a different market to focus on that is less demanding. “I think a lot of people are often afraid to ask their employers for these changes and default into assuming it is time to look for another role that is less challenging or to go in-house.”
Mel offers the following five tips for recruiters looking to balance work and family commitments:
- Request flexibility and remote access – to ensure you don’t miss important family time but can still provide a high level of service externally.
- Plan and organise each day – start with the tasks you don’t want to do first, don’t waste time in the office.
- Dedicate family time and be present on your days off.
- Be content with what is your best – don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be days you feel like you aren’t doing both jobs very well, especially when kids get sick at an early age, but it gets easier.
- Work smarter, not harder.
This article was based on a Q&A featured on Michael Page.
Michael Page is a worldwide leader in global recruitment that has been operating in Australia for over 30 years.
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