For most parents flexible working is the only way to juggle a career and family life, but we know that finding the right role can be easier said than done. There are plenty of part-time jobs out there if you don’t mind what you do (or how much you earn), but where do you find one that will let you spend time with your kids and give you the challenge you need?
If you have a job already, then as a parent you have the right to request flexible working, providing you’ve been there for six months. But even in companies which pride themselves on family friendly policies, part-time or flexible roles are rarely advertised. So where should you look and how should you broach the subject of flexible working in interviews?
Here’s how to go about it:
1. Ask the experts
Head to a dedicated site like WorkingMums.co.uk, WomenLikeUs.org.uk or CapabilityJane.com, which all work with a wide range of employers advertising part-time jobs for working mums.
2. Do your homework
Do a bit of research and find out which companies are most sympathetic to family friendly working practices. Working Families publishes a yearly list of firms committed to supporting the work-life balance, while Working Mums also celebrates flexible employers in its annual awards.
3. Ask around
Many companies are keen to promote their family-friendly image, but when it comes down to it they can be altogether more traditional. Are they really committed to flexible working or just paying lip service? Do some digging and find out what it’s really like to work there.
4. Approach companies directly
Be proactive. Think about which companies you’d like to work for then send them your CV, asking if they could use someone with your skills on a flexible basis.
5. Apply for full-time roles
Don’t be put off by ads for full time roles. If a job has your name on it it’s worth taking a chance and applying anyway – some companies are prepared to be flexible for the right person.
6. Know your stuff
If you think they could be persuaded you’ll need to show them you have a clear vision of how flexible could work. Demonstrate you understand the challenges on both sides, and that you’ve thought through practical solutions to help you work efficiently. Ask for flexible working in the right way, and you’re more likely to get it.
7. Go carefully…
If you do apply for a full-time role, when is the right time to ask? Some firms may be put off or question your commitment if you ask directly about flexible working too soon. Suss them out quietly by asking general questions about office culture. Then wait until you are offered a job before asking if it can be done flexibly.
8. … Or be up front
However, some employers appreciate honesty, so if flexible working is a must, it may be better to lay your cards on the table from the outset. Ask about specific opportunities, whether it’s working from home, part-time or compressed hours. Be clear about what you need and if you are offered a position make sure it’s reflected in your contract on day one.