I’m looking for flexible working. A well-paid, part-time job, to be more precise. The Holy Grail? Maybe.
I’m hoping attitudes and opinions have changed since I last looked – when talking about part-time work tended to close more doors than it opened. It was hugely disappointing at the time to feel that my experience wasn’t valued just because I was looking for some flexibility.
This time round, I wanted to document my journey. How long will it take to find work? Have attitudes changed? What I learn along the way. How best to broach the subject with a possible future employer.
And I hope sharing my story will help you if you’re looking too.
The Ongoing Juggle
I’ve worked all my life and have had a great career, so far. 25 years of experience behind me including working for companies such as Microsoft and Reuters.
However, I’m a mum too and technically I have 2 jobs – my mum-job and my job-job. Or maybe I have 3 jobs as I look after the house, finances, the cat etc too.
It has been tough juggling the demands of work and kids. I’ve been lucky though, I’ve had flexible, well-paid jobs before. They are out there! At Microsoft, I did a compressed working week and more recently, I worked for a local company 4 days a week.
Flexible working has helped me maintain some semblance of my career, whilst still being there for my kids. I’ve taken a step back in my career though; the juggle got too much for me.
The Positives and Negatives
There have been many positives though – more time with the kids, less corporate-stress, less general-stress. I’ve still earned good money and had mental stimulation which is important to me.
On the negative side though, sometimes I’ve felt less valued as a person and have struggled with the loss of my professional identity over the last few years.
But I’m passionate about working. I’m passionate about not seeing my education, my knowledge and my experience go to waste. I’m passionate about my kids too.
Thoughts, Feelings, Concerns, Hopes
Here are my initial thoughts, feelings, concerns and hopes, before I start the process of looking for work.
Broaching the Subject
This one stumps me a little as I’ve heard so many different opinions. At what point do you broach the subject of flexibility. At what point do you say the words I’d like to work 3 or 4 days a week please. How do you say it? How do you sell it (what are the benefits to the company employing you for example?)
A friend of mine who works in HR says you have to be upfront about it and say what you want at the start of the conversation.
Another friend says you should apply for a full-time job, get the employer to buy into your experience and what you can offer and then start the conversation around flexible working.
Another says get a full-time job, work 6 months and then negotiate the flexibility.
Argh! Confusing! The jury is out on this one.
Have Attitudes Changed?
Let’s hope attitudes towards flexible working have changed. Please. When I’ve looked before, there was often an oh we don’t do that attitude and the interview, which had been going well until that point, was then cut short.
In the Foreword of the report by the Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group (entitled Women Returners), Flick Drummond MP said, “if we want to be a happier and more successful country, we must appreciate that some people take time out of the workplace for either caring responsibilities or to pursue other interests.” She also added, “I would like to see a culture where we recognise that this can have a positive impact on our ability to do the job.”
Let’s hope companies are catching on.
Boring I know but need to think about getting my CV updated, determine which job boards to register on and which recruitment agencies to talk to. Also need to update my profile on LinkedIn.
Then there are the practicalities around my kids too. My last job was about 2 miles from home so I could still drop the kids off at school in the morning. I’m not sure if I’ll get a job that close again. So, need to think about school clubs, drop off, picks up etc.
I’m a little apprehensive and nervous of looking for a new job. Completely natural though as it’s all a bit unknown.
Time is of the essence. My confidence levels will wobble if I am out of work for a while. Been there before. After only taking 6 months on maternity leave, I felt less self-confident than before.
However, I need to stay positive especially when talking to recruiters, HR managers, potential future boss.
What am I Willing to Do and Not Do?
Need to decide what is important to me and what I would be willing to compromise on. For example, how far am I willing to travel for work, would I take a pay cut if the job offers more flexibility, am I willing to do a job that I may not enjoy but offers good pay or good location?
And of course, the big question is will I have the option to be fussy!
Are you looking for flexible working too? Let me know how you have got on. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks.