Family carers are often forgotten about in terms of advocating for people in the Diversity and Inclusion area. However, Count On Us Recruitment was started by Fiona O’Neill, after her own experiences trying to find employment as a Family Carer, while sticking to the guidelines.
The company now works with family carers to provide mentoring and job coaching services, while attracting employers to employ their highly skilled, loyal and dedicated workforce, who otherwise are being ignored in recruitment.
I interviewed Fiona to find out more:
- What was your road to becoming an entrepreneur?
I hold a Degree in Business Studies in Marketing through the Institute of Public Administration and UCD. I held the role of Personal Assistant to one of the Directors of VHI Healthcare. In this role it was vital to have organisational skills, liaise with directors and managers from other companies and manage and monitor budgets to name just a few tasks. These skills I have carried through into my current position. I resigned from full time employment to care for my sick son. When I tried to obtain part time employment as a Family Carer that met the criteria set out by the government, I found a lack of personalised recruitment services for Family Carers in Ireland. Seeing the demand for such services I set up my own business.
- To someone who is not aware of it, can you tell me what Count On Us Recruitment does?
Our business offers a unique service that provides mentorship and support to Family Carers looking for part-time work. We offer a national jobs board that lists jobs specifically designed to meet the working criteria of Family Carers. We also support employers in filling their vacancies by providing them with access to a database of professional Family Carers who have a vast range of qualifications and skills.
- What do employers gain by interacting with the service?
Employers who interact with Count On Us Recruitment can gain access to a large pool of skilled professionals with valuable soft skills such as compassion, empathy, and problem-solving, as well as hard skills and qualifications that are often underutilised due to government limitations on working hours for Family Carers. This can provide employers with the opportunity to tap into a talented and diverse workforce, and help to address labour shortages in their industries. Additionally, working with Count On Us Recruitment can help to foster a positive reputation as an inclusive and socially responsible employer, and contribute to the well-being and support of Family Carers in the community.
- Your Employment Programme assists family carers in gaining employment in the future. Can you describe what this programme entails?
Count On Us Recruitment offers a range of services to help Family Carers prepare for their return-to-work journey, including CV writing support, identifying and recognizing their transferable skills, one-to-one coaching with an established panel of associate coaches with Count On Us Recruitment, and ongoing contact and support after securing employment to help the Family Carer settle into their new working role. These services can help Family Carers to build their confidence, enhance their skills, and successfully transition back into the workforce. By providing tailored support and guidance, Count On Us Recruitment aims to help Family Carers unlock their full potential and achieve their career goals.
- What barriers does your community face in gaining employment?
Family Carers can face a range of barriers when seeking employment, including limited job opportunities that fit within their caregiving responsibilities and government restrictions on their working hours, a lack of flexible working arrangements, limited access to training and career development opportunities, and potential employer bias or discrimination. Family Carers may also have gaps in their work history or face challenges in balancing their caregiving responsibilities with the demands of a job, which can make it difficult to find and maintain employment. These barriers can contribute to high levels of unemployment and underemployment among Family Carers, despite their valuable skills and qualifications.
- Do you have any success stories either with employers or carers that you can tell me about?
“I worked with Fiona in helping me to present my skills as a Family Carer in the professional light that they deserve on my CV. She gave me advice on how to notify the Carers Allowance Department when I was offered my new position. Fiona helped me to ease my feeling of panic and uncertainty about what comes next. I’m working in my dream job now” – Louise Dempsey, Family Carer, Dublin
- What marketing efforts do you employ to help raise the awareness of Count on us recruitment?
Count On Us Recruitment employs a range of marketing efforts to raise awareness of our services, including targeted social media advertising, email marketing campaigns, online networking, and collaborations with relevant organisations and associations. We also attend industry events and conferences to connect with potential clients and partners, and offer informative webinars and workshops to share our expertise and promote our services. Additionally, we leverage client testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals to build our reputation and credibility within the industry.
- How did the pandemic affect the organisation and your community? Are there any positives you can take from this time?
Many Family Carers have faced increased caregiving responsibilities due to lockdowns and restrictions, which has made it difficult for them to work or seek employment. Additionally, many businesses have faced challenges or closures, which has limited job opportunities and increased competition for available positions.
However, there have been some positives that have emerged during this time. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of flexible working arrangements and the need for greater support for Family Carers in the workforce. It has also created new opportunities for remote and online work, which can provide greater flexibility and accessibility for Family Carers.
- What were some of the highlights since you launched?
Count On Us Recruitment has achieved several highlights. One of these includes successfully placing Family Carers in part-time roles with a range of employers across different industries. We have also launched a national jobs board that provides job listings specifically tailored to the needs of Family Carers.
Another significant milestone has been the hiring of Count On Us Recruitment’s second employee and that employee is also a skilled Family Carer. This achievement is a testament to our commitment to not only promote the employment of Family Carers but also to provide them with opportunities for career advancement within our own organisation. The hiring of our first Family Carer employee aligns with our values and mission, demonstrating that we practice what we preach. We aim to continue to prioritise the hiring of Family Carers and to lead by example in promoting their employment and career development.