After Divorce, Making Ends Meet

After Divorce, Making Ends Meet

About Jobs: Online Job Boards Offer New Careers for Newly Divorced Moms

Divorce takes a financial toll on even the most prepared couples. Women and mothers who have been outside the workforce especially feel the pinch. After her divorce, Shannon Davis knew she needed a more flexible work arrangement. And she knew she wasn’t alone.

The former Ernst & Young manager and busy mother of two launched BeyondMotherhood.com from her Cleveland home to connect mothers who are looking for part-time work arrangements with employers who offer them. It’s a network she thinks is particularly useful for mothers whose work situations are affected by divorce.

“I have a couple of friends who have been stay-at-home moms and they’re in the process of going through a divorce,” says Davis. “They’re in a position where they have to go back to work to support themselves and help with child support for their children.”

Davis’ company joined a growing group of online job boards targeted to moms looking for flexible or part-time jobs. They are among an emerging category of niche job boards that focus on lifestyle rather than job specialty, like SnagAJob.com, for hourly workers, and GrooveJob.com for teens and students. Such job boards are attracting increasing attention from recruiters as retiring Baby Boomers and job-hopping younger workers create job openings faster than employers can fill them.

“Recruiters are going to be receptive to all of this because they have no choice,” says consultant Peter Conti, Jr. senior vice president of Borrell Associates Inc., a Williamsburg, Virginia research and consulting firm that tracks local advertising and helps online companies develop executive strategies.

His company’s research shows that niche job boards are stealing market share from the big boards like Monster.com and Yahoo! Hotjobs because they reduce the fire hose effect of the general job boards and connect employers with the specific kinds of workers they need. This is particularly helpful as companies look for new hires among stay-at-home parents and retirees.

Davis says she came up with the idea for BeyondMotherhood.com while talking with her girlfriends. “We’d say we’re all amazing, educated, talented women and there should be a way we can be with our children, but still leverage all we’ve done over the years.”

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Her site, which she describes as a “Monster.com for moms,” lined up 60 employers ranging from retailers to consulting firms who she says will start posting jobs in February. That’s when she expects the 350 women who have registered so far will grow to 1,000 women looking for part-time or contract work. “The majority of the employers are very excited,” she says. “They have a need and they didn’t know how to approach women. They know they’re talented and educated, but they didn’t know how to find them.”

The founders of CareerWomen.com got in on the niche job board game early, launching their job board for women 11 years ago to help companies interested in diversity hire qualified candidates. The firm now called Career Exposure Network expanded to offer DiversitySearch.comMBACareers.com and offers jobs from thousands of employers, according to the company’s director of marketing Lisa MacKenzie. “The founders thought there was an opportunity to utilize the web to serve a distinct market, to target different demographics,” she says.

Both CareerWomen.com and BeyondMotherhood.com offer free job searches and charge employers for listings on the sites. Other job boards like JobsforMoms.com and HireMyMom.com charge users for memberships in sites that work to connect them with these flexible work arrangements. “I know there are a lot of moms eager to work and have skills and abilities but not the time to market themselves,” says Lesley Spencer Pyle, who launched HireMyMom.com in May and has signed up about 600 members. The annual fee is $99.

She says she offers listings free to businesses because they are considering candidates they may hire as contract workers. “Most of the time you’re not going to meet this person in person,” she says of the candidates who companies find through her site, “so you need to get more feel for them over the phone. For the business, there’s a little bit more risk. So we make it free for them.”

Most of Pyle’s clients are small businesses and home-based businesses with small staffs looking to hire people who can help with things like Web site design, marketing research, public relations writing and blogging. Many of the people who have been hired through her site work from home, she says. Pyle, a working mom who ramped up her home-based businesses after her divorce in 2002, says she hired three moms looking for flexible arrangements to work for HireMyMom.com.

“I hired someone to help with Internet marketing strategy, someone to help write articles and someone to do online networking posting on message boards,” she says.

Davis, who offered flexible opportunities on Beyondmotherhood.com saw her site as being particularly useful for women whose work needs change because of divorce. “Some are looking for work from home because they have little ones and some are open to on-site possibilities,” she says. “They’re not quite in a position where they can go back full time because they still have children and other responsibilities, but they’re looking to use the part-time possibilities as a stepping stone to full-time work in the future.”

“Employers are embracing these more flexible arrangements,” says Career Exposure Network’s MacKenzie. “The notion that you have to be tied to your desk and computer at 6th and B Avenue has really evolved,” she comments. “There are a lot of variations of work these days and employers are trying to find the best possible way to meet the needs of their shareholders. It’s a very sophisticated blend of things. When it comes to work and keeping employees happy, that blend works well.”

Stacey Tiedge Alatzas of Bel Air, Maryland, is a freelance journalist, blogger and new media consultant with 12 years of experience writing and editing for daily newspapers. She can be reached at s.alatzas@Wevorce.com.

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