With backgrounds in recruitment and business development, and with a keen desire to work flexibly, my business partner and I were very familiar with the part-time employment market. We knew there were large numbers of highly skilled parents looking for challenging, well paid jobs that would provide them with a healthy work-life balance. We also knew of the many employers who struggled to source from this talent pool. Highly confident of success, we launched our very own niche search and selection agency focussing on this market in June 2011.
What’s in a name?
How many cups of tea does it take to come up with a business name? More than either of us ever anticipated. The dilemma was to find a company name that told people what we did but was memorable and around which we could build a brand and logo design. Several cups of tea and afternoons of café torment later, we agreed on ‘3P – Part-time Professional People’. It does what it says on the tin and feels good when you call someone and say, “It’s Amanda from 3P!”
To tweet or not to tweet
It seems remarkable that at the beginning of 2011, we were so cautious about social media: its prevalence and perceived frivolity were off-putting; clearly this was something we needed to investigate and get to grips with.
Thankfully we did. Sam went to a seminar hosted by Julie Hall (@julie_hall) on the importance to business of social media and I have a long-standing friend who is something of a ‘guru’ in social networking circles (@annemcx). An early pioneer of Twitter/Facebook et al, I learned some valuable lessons from her. The best pieces of advice we received? If you start ‘doing social media’ stick to it and do it properly; find ways to add value to your followers’ experience rather than just selling yourselves; be aspirational – make people want to hear what you’ve got to say!
Our first few tweets did little more than alert friendly tweeters to our presence; however gaining confidence and having fun we found our voice and were delighted as strangers began to follow us. We agreed on a strategy to tweet twice daily as a minimum and less than a month on we have a growing band of followers to @3Ptweets. Ok, maybe it’s a long way before we match Stephen Fry for followers but as virgin tweeters, we’re very pleased with this result.
Selecting who to follow has been an interesting challenge and we are learning as we go along but the main thing is it’s fun and has given us a couple of superb leads and some great exposure. We firmly believe that our candidate audience is of the tweeting variety and by adding our tweet name to our email sign offs, we are encouraging more followers. All our new jobs are released on Twitter first which we think is the best ‘added value’ for our candidates of all. Watch this tweet….
LinkedIn v Facebook
This is a tough one. I’m not a big Facebook user but Sam does ‘Facebook’ her friends and family. Is ‘Facebooking’ now a verb in the Oxford English I wonder? However, we used it recently to promote a new job opportunity outside of London; I was able to do this whilst on holiday in Spain and it was amazing to be able to talk to people about a role in Windsor from the poolside in Valencia. Got us a candidate as well!
As professionals, we were aware of and already big LinkedIn users. We chose to use their paid for advertising option for one of our first roles and the response was overwhelming. What great value it has turned out to be; advertising for £125 sourced us 50+ candidates in one hit. We’ve set up 3P on LinkedIn and all our tweets automcatically update to the company’s page. This in turn links to email signatures and our website. Some joined up thinking that means employers and candidates have a range of ways of experiencing 3P – and it’s up to them which suits them best. We ensure consistency of brand and voice across all media.
As we progress the business of sourcing more great candidates and engaging with companies looking to hire from the part-time professional market, we are starting to see the amazing impact that social media will have for us for us.
About the Author: Sam is mum to Freddie (9 months) and full-time step mum to teens James & Charlotte and I, Amanda am mum to Daniel (14). We make the business work for us on a part-time basis, covering Monday to Friday between us, ably assisted by a great virtual office company @OfficeFront.
3P – Part-Time Professional People is a company specialising in search and selection for organisations primarily in west London and the Home Counties who are looking for fantastic candidates to fill mid-senior level part-time roles. In the current economic climate, the message to employers is that they can hire an experienced and reliable individual for a fraction of the full time salary.
Part-time doesn’t have to mean low skilled or low paid. It’s simply a lifestyle choice.