Matchmakers: Couple Courts Talent
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“It is true of the nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Brett and Carey Baker are the full-time faces behind Part-Time Pros, a staffing company that unites talented professionals with companies that have full- and part-time needs. The business is growing—up 450% since inception—but just a few years ago, the husband-and-wife team considered shutting the company’s doors.
Part-Time Pros places highly skilled administrative, accounting, clerical, marketing, management, and IT professionals who want to work a limited number of hours or bounce from project to project. A subsidiary, Tulsa-Med Pros, serves the health care industry. Some employers are attracted to these types of workers because they are less costly than full-time employees.
Carey got the idea for the company when she returned to full-time work reviewing grants for a large foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after giving birth to her first daughter. “I got frustrated with the rigidness of corporate America,” she says. “Once I became a mom, I wanted to continue to work, but I wanted more flexibility.” Carey approached her employer about working remotely or working part time, but the answer was no. “It was a blessing in disguise. It gave me a kick start,” Carey says. Brett left his job at the fire department about a year ago to devote all of his time to the business.
In its first year, Part-Time Pros placed 56 people. This year, the Bakers predict they’ll place close to 500. Carey estimates that 75 to 100 people per week submit applications or stop by the office, but her firm places only about 10% of applicants. “Our mission is all about the match,” she says. “I know what it’s like to fire somebody and incur the expense of hiring and training someone only to have him or her leave.”
Potential Part-Time Pros go through a very rigorous hiring process. Before they are signed on with the company, they must complete an online application, pass a phone interview, have a face-to-face interview, and have three references. The Bakers’ approach has led to a 95% hiring rate on temp-to-hire matches.
While Part-Time Pros has grown from just Carey to six full-time and two part-time employees, they were, like many companies, affected by the economic downturn. “We launched the business in March 2008 when the economy was strong and people were hiring,” Carey says. “Literally, four months later, the landscape changed and everyone was laying off employees.”
In 2009, Part-Time Pros entered a local entrepreneurial competition (The Spirit Award, sponsored by The City of Tulsa and Spirit Bank) and won second place. The competition helped get their name out there and get through the first-year hump. “The competition gave us affirmation that we were on the right track. We were truly grateful for the exposure we gained in the community,” says Carey.