Finding a decent flexible working job is a subject close to our hearts as working mums:
Over the years, as a working mum myself and from research I’ve done for my clients, I’ve been frustrated at how little information there is on finding a decent flexible working job. If you’re willing to take any old job, or you don’t mind earning peanuts, then you can get a flexible working job relatively easily. However, if you’re a professional working mum, you’ve got a mortgage to pay or exorbitant childcare costs, it’s not quite so straightforward. There’s little point in taking a job that doesn’t even pay for childcare, just because it’s got the label “flexible working”.
- Decide what you want and what’s the right “shape” of flexible working for you and your family. This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at how many working mums find themselves in a flexible work pattern what they thought would work, but doesn’t actually suit them. Get clear on exactly what YOU mean by “flexible” as there are a multitude of options and don’t assume that you know all those options. Do your research and cross check your flexible working wish list with your personal and professional values. E.g. if you have a value of connecting with people, then you won’t be happy working every single day from home and you’ll need to build in some way of networking or meeting people.
- Don’t fall into the trap of under-selling and under-valuing yourself and applying for jobs that are well below your skills, experience and salary range, just because they are advertised as “flexible”. Why? Because you’ll end up more stressed and unhappy than if you’d taken a full time, non flexible job that you enjoy. We all know there are many unsatisfying flexible working jobs out there with low pay. Create your vision of what you want and be dogged in your determination to get it!
- Understand what you can and can’t ask for and expect within the confines of the law. E.g. In the UK, parents with children under 17 have the right to request flexible working, but they don’t have the right to flexible working per se. If you’re in the UK, you can check out at www.direct.gov.uk for the latest position on flexible working and your rights for requesting.
- Go for the low hanging fruit and just ask! The best place to start your flexible work search is your existing company. Workingmums.co.uk found that 47 per cent of mums don’t talk about flexible working with their bosses, despite 83 per cent wanting to return to work with more flexible hours. I can give you several examples of women who have not thought to ask for a more flexible role, and who have been pleasantly surprised when they did pluck up the courage to ask. If you’re at breaking point with the constant commute or the long hours that you are working, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply asking.
- Research the sort of employer you want to work for. Check out best places for women to work lists and awards in both the UK and US, as these will give you an indication of how forward thinking a company is with regards to flexible working. Also check out Working Mums Top Employers’ Awards (www.workingmums.co.uk ) . Look for enlightened employers and what their policies are towards remote and flexible working. Who would you love to work for if you believed you could get the job? Go for it!