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News / Business

Bus Stop Mamas job site targets parents who want to re-enter workforce

By Nick Williams, Star Tribune
Published: January 1, 2023, 6:06am

In 2015, Mary Kay Ziniewicz decided to transition to a work-from-home model for her consulting business after her husband re-entered the workforce following his time as a stay-at-home dad.

She took over the daily routine, including waiting with other moms for the school bus. As she got to know other parents, Ziniewicz learned that many of the moms had put their careers on hold to be the primary caretaker of their children.

Some of those moms wanted to find a job again but also wanted flexibility to remain fully involved with their children. Ziniewicz found that many were concerned about being overlooked by companies that viewed gaps in employment history as a red flag.

Those talks sparked an idea for a business, and after a few years of research, surveying moms and employers — and developing a platform — Ziniewicz launched Bus Stop Mamas, a Twin Cities-based job marketplace where employers gain access to an untapped pool of talented moms.

The platform, launched in 2019, posts part-time, temporary and full-time positions and connects interested people with company representatives.

Bus Stop Mamas is used by more than 12,000 moms — and some dads — across the U.S., mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Ohio. There also is some international use. More than 600 employers have posted jobs to the site, including Boston Scientific, LearningRx, Minneapolis-based real estate company Ryan Cos. and Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee, Ziniewicz said.

Tracey Baubie, chief executive of Minneapolis-based Comprehensive Research Group (CRG), a company that performs clinical research for the beauty industry, has used Bus Stop Mamas to hire since 2020. Most of those positions have been for part-time recruiters who onboard people participating in research studies, along with technical positions, Baubie said.

“It’s been a fantastic way for us to tap into a resource that I think is underutilized and to provide moms with the flexibility that they need,” Baubie said. “We need that flexibility because of the way our business works. It’s been fabulous.”

That flexibility was crucial to CRG during the pandemic, Baubie said. Her company has a small number of full-time employees, but adds part-time staff on an as-needed basis. Using Bus Stop Mamas became a simple tool to find quality workers willing to work part-time and remotely, she said.

“The marketplace was shaken by COVID,” Ziniewicz said. “Now we have this great opportunity to take what we’ve learned from how to operate differently as organizations, and apply that flexibility to a group of people who are so needed in our society.”

The pandemic significantly impacted the number of moms in the labor force overall, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By January 2021, there were 10 million mothers living with school-aged children that were not actively working, 1.4 million more than January 2020.

Between March and April of 2020, roughly 3.5 million mothers living with school-age children left active work. The exit was a result of shifting into paid or unpaid leave, losing a job or quitting, the bureau reported.

“We have a backload of talented moms who are ready to work, and we have employers who are desperate for people,” Ziniewicz said.

Ziniewicz has grown Bus Stop Mamas using a mix of angel investment dollars and $56,000 in grants from Launch Minnesota, an initiative of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to support early-stage companies.

In 2023, Ziniewicz plans to improve the platform by adding automation and data analysis to measure job seeker and employer behavior. She also anticipates growing in six new markets while refining her pricing model. Employers can pay per job post, for a certain amount of posts in a month, or subscribe to an enterprise model to post throughout the year.

“We solve the problem of finding highly skilled people at a part-time level that can come in and be half the cost of a full-time employee and hit the ground running,” Ziniewicz said.

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