The working parent: maternity, SPL & the untapped pool

Discussing some of the issues faced by today’s working parent…

Maternity returners are lacking confidence & left unsupported

Less than 1/5 of management-level professionals feel confident about re-entering the workplace after their maternity leave, reports People Management.

What’s more, over 1/3 of this group consider leaving their role due to feeling ‘unsupported and isolated on their return’. 90% additionally say their company provide no formal support or ‘returnship’ focus whatsoever.

The CIPD encourages businesses to provide senior level job-sharing opportunities, alongside increased flexible working, to further support these employees.

Shared parental leave take-up remains incredibly low

Of the 285,000 couples who qualify for shared parental leave (‘SPL’) annually, only 2% take advantage of this opportunity. Why is this and are employers to blame (asks HR Magazine)?

The article cites a variety of possible factors. These include:

  • Mothers not actually wishing to share their leave with their partners
  • Health factors, including the mother’s need to recover from pregnancy or birth
  • The perceived impact on fathers’ careers
  • Cultural values around ‘being the breadwinner’
  • Lack of SPL promotion at work
  • Complex workplace policies

The single working parent: the ‘untapped talent pool’

Single working parents are more likely to be unemployed than any other primary employee group, says HR Review. In fact, their unemployment rate is now two and a half times that of the British average.

Unfortunately, the new-employment rate for the single working parent has actually declined over the past five years.

These stats come from Indeed – and the company is advising businesses to consider the group as a major untapped talent pool. With 845,000 national vacancies to fill, and record national employment rates, they suggest this may be one possible solution to overcoming the skills shortage.

Once again, the notion of increased flexible and remote working is discussed.

They also reference disabled and minority ethnic employees as further talent pools. Positively, national employment rates for both of these groups have increased over the past five years.

Appoint welcomes recruitment enquiries from each of the discussed employee groups, as well as those looking to do more to attract and support them. For initial advice, please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us via the address. Here’s what to include in your cover email as a candidate.

Are traditional CVs dying?

Are CVs dying out? Will social media ever truly replace the CV? Let’s see what the research is saying…

  • Recruiting Times has reported that 44% of survey respondents aged 18-24 would rather make their job applications via Twitter than by CV.
  • This group suggests that CVs appear ‘boring’ and fail to fully communicate an individual’s personality to prospective employers (70%).

Don’t consign your curriculum vitae to the bin just yet! It’s important to note that this survey was conducted by Twitter. We haven’t been able to track down the original research methods to ascertain whether the respondents are already existing Twitter users. We do, however, know that there were only 264 responses.

So these results, while highly interesting, are not powerful enough to equate to CVs dying out across the land!

CVs dying? Or the “best way to get employers’ attention?”

While Twitter promotes the idea of incorporating images and emojis into users’ employer attraction efforts, the Institute of Student Employers offers an alternative perspective.

Talking on behalf of the organisation, Stephen Isherwood suggests that CVs (complete with their covering documents), still provide the “best way to get employers’ attention”.

We can’t help but agree. In this time of skills shortage, employers are looking to obtain as many insights as they can regarding your suitability for their vacancies.

Tweeting your thoughts on the latest Netflix shows, adventures and/or personal projects may showcase your personality. However, it rarely demonstrates how your skills and experiences meet the unique needs of a particular job or company.

There’s a great reason that we always promote a tailored CV…it boosts your chance of finding a new job! Re-read our 7 Days of Job Hunting tips if you need further convincing/support.

Have you heard about the data ‘scraping’ to uncover negative personality traits online?

A large global study conducted on Facebook users uncovered a ‘significant connection’ between peoples’ status updates and ‘dark side’ personality traits. These primarily include:

  • Emotional volatility
  • Narcissism
  • And even conformity

You can read about each via HR Magazine. The article specifically explores the link between these personality characteristics and the way they could negatively impact careers and organisations. HR practitioners were even encouraged to watch out for these traits in the recruitment process – using ‘machine-learning algorithms’ where necessary.

It’s unlikely that your prospective employers are currently data scraping your social feeds! Nor is this suggesting you need to rush off and close your social media accounts for fear of not finding a new job. Yet this is a great reminder that what you may perceive as a positive post could be interpreted very differently by such an algorithm/outside observer.

There’s something far more neutral about the humble CV. It’s especially designed for you to showcase your career skills and achievements in a very focused manner.

Of course, with the pace of technological change, they may be usurped one day. Meanwhile, you can always experiment with a variety of job-seeking methods. Whatever you choose, it really is worth putting some effort into creating a great CV.

Here are some handy links for you…

FAQ: Do I Need a Cover Letter?

Research suggests younger workers resent writing them, yet the majority take the time to. Do you need a bespoke cover letter to apply to a recruitment agency? 

The above references an onrec piece, in which we hear:

  • 2 in 3 applicants aged 18-24 resent having to create bespoke cover letters for each job application
  • However, 56.7% of workers always do so
  • And 2 in 3 believe ‘that cover letters benefit a job application’

Let’s start with how you’re applying

When you say ‘cover letter’ we’d recommend that this is always a ‘cover email’ for recruitment agencies. Not only will it reach the agency much sooner, it helps your recruitment consultant to process your information. I.e. easily saving your CV and being able to swiftly format this for any client applications.

So, does that mean you always need a cover email for a recruitment agency? 

Yes it would be recommended for your initial introductory email. Although that’s not necessarily as detailed an email as you might expect!

Recruitment agencies usually receive many CVs each day due to the number of roles that they’re actively recruiting for (as well as from candidates who simply wish to be considered for any suitable role that becomes available).

To this end, your goal is to ensure your covering email succinctly communicates the basics of your search needs and availability.

You’ll want to include:

  • Position type: whether you’re looking for temporary &/or permanent work. Plus whether this is part time or full time.
  • Nature of role/s: the types of roles that you are hoping to apply for i.e. Account Management, Office Assistant, PA, Administrator, Finance Manager, etc.
  • A salary guide: at least the minimum that you would realistically commit to.
  • Your working availability – whether immediate or with X number of weeks’ notice
  • If applicable: job reference numbers & titles for any roles of specific interest (you can find these at the bottom of each job advert on the Appoint website)

If you’re applying for a specific vacancy, you may wish to add a brief line regarding your associated experience. However, be certain to ensure that this is also clearly conveyed in your attached CV.

Talking of CVs…

If you’re applying as a general applicant (i.e. not for a specific vacancy) you can use your standard/basic CV. This should be one that highlights your skills and achievements from the point of view of most of the roles that you’d be looking for right now.

When applying for a specific vacancy, it’s wise to update this CV to include examples that pertain to the job specification. We talk about this a little in ‘Your CV: and what to do BEFORE you write it’.

What if you’ve included 6 job references in your cover email, do you need to send 6 CVs?

No, that would be CV overload! The likelihood is that there will be a theme to these jobs – that is if the references relate to positions that you are likely to fulfil the advertised requirements for, as opposed to those that you have no experience/qualifications in yet just catch your eye..!

Perhaps two CVs would be most suitable: each to demonstrate one of the core themes. Name the CV files to reflect this and –to be super efficient!– list the reference codes under the related CV header.

You’re welcome to use this copy & paste template…

[See above for a reminder as to what each bullet point refers to!]

Dear X,

Opening line or two of your choice…

  • Position type:
  • Nature of role/s:
  • Salary guide:
  • Working availability:
  • Job reference numbers & titles (if applicable):

Closing line,


Mobile number

We hope this helps take some of the stress away from writing your cover email – and we look forward to receiving your application!