Puffling is a job marketplace connecting return-to-work mothers for jobshare roles

- August 28, 2017 3 MIN READ

Taking away the need to visit Seek.com every time you want to scout out the job market is a shelf of job marketplace startups, all looking to connect job hunters to niche industries and roles.

Their purposes are diverse; for example, WithYouWithMe is a platform connecting veterans to roles on their preferred career path, while Wagga Wagga startup Pointer is a marketplace connecting regional Australians to remote job roles.

Looking to tackle another largely untapped space of the job marketplace is Puffling, a platform which connects mothers returning to work to each other for job sharing roles.

Focusing on both full and part time roles within the advertising, public relations, and marketing sectors, Puffling allows its users to contact other viable candidates on the platform to organise a meetup, before pairing together, forming a joint CV, and applying for pre-vetted jobshare roles found on Puffling’s database.

Describing Puffling’s functionality as similar to a modern “dating platform”, the startup’s cofounder Lija Wilson said the benefit of the platform over the traditional jobshare model is the fact that users are able to handpick their own professional match.

“They choose each other based on their shared goals, values and their common backgrounds, skills and experience,” she explained.

“The businesses therefore benefit from having double the experience and network for the same headcount cost in the one role, as well as having a super engaged and dedicated team who are accountable to each other, not only in the work they deliver, but also the practical side of being able to cover for each other during periods or illness or leave.”

A parent herself, Wilson paired together with Mike Hill and Sarah Parker, who also had families of their own, to come up with the idea for a business that will fill the role sharing gap in the jobs market, which is especially large in senior roles.

“We were joking about combining our CVs so we could apply for the types of roles we had previously held, and splitting the load as part time roles at senior levels simply didn’t exist in the open job market,” said Wilson.

“When we considered our network of friends and colleagues and realised how many parents were trading seniority and often taking massive steps back in salary for flexibility, we realised just how large and how powerful this talent pool of senior return to work mums was. There wasn’t a talent shortage in our industry at all – there was a flexibility shortage.”

With backgrounds and “deep” networks embedded in advertising, PR, and marketing, the trio decided to focus on these select industries with the launch of the platform’s trial period last year.

Leveraging their internal networks, the startup managed to gather 20 agency partners on the platform and recruit nearly 500 return-to-work mums within a short period of time.

Puffling users are able to choose whether to set their profiles on private or public before they begin searching for a partner on the platform.

“We provide a whole bunch of tips and questions for our Pufflings before they go on their first ‘date’ and also engage with them on preparing for a joint interview,” said Wilson.

“You may not find an exact match straight away, but there is increasing interest from businesses in ‘vertical pairings’ whereby complimentary skillsets or a more junior and senior pair are matched.”

Sporting a model similar to most recruitment platforms and firms, Puffling charges a percentage of the total salary to businesses once a job has been secured. However, with that in mind, Wilson said the startup offers a price “well under half” of most traditional recruitment fee models.

Discussing the businesses on the platform, Wilson explained a lot of them have been supporters of job share for a while, and joining Puffling came as a natural transition.

“However, there are many businesses who are still working out how to engage with flexible working arrangements and are new to job share. We are absolutely working on how to encourage conversations on flexibility and make it an issue for us all to solve; its not a female issue, it’s not an HR issue, it’s not a CEO issue. Flexibility is something requiring education, endorsement, and trial,” she added.

Elsewhere in the space of supporting mothers is Western Australian startup Jugglr. Aiming to support stay-at-home parents, the Jugglr app connects mothers with others in their local area to offer each other their professional services.

By encouraging users to flex their professional skill, the app hopes to better equip them to re-enter the workplace in the future, while offering them an opportunity to begin developing their own business from home.

Sydney startup Gemini3, meanwhile, is focused on job share roles. It works to firstly help companies identify opportunities for such roles, design them, and then promote and fill them.

Looking to broaden its job offerings, the startup recently formed a strategic partnership with recruitment and HR specialist company Randstad. With the partnership, Puffling said it’s looking to accelerate its growth, forwarding its goal of creating a more inclusive workforce.

With interest from businesses across law, finance, IT and education, the startup is also looking to expand its offering as it transitions from its trial period towards its full launch.

Image: Puffling cofounding team. Source: Supplied.