How do you find a good flexible job which uses your experience and skills? For many working parents, flexible working is their number one priority. Here are some tips on how to find a new flexible job.
Most organisations don’t advertise flexible jobs, except part-time ones so where do you start looking?
There are organisations, such as Workingmums.co.uk, which specialise in advertising family friendly jobs with a large range of employers so it is worth registering with them.
However, up to 80% of jobs are not formally advertised so it is worth doing some research on firms which employ people with your skills, checking out their flexible working policy and asking around about them before sending in a speculative letter. Use social networking to find out about any potential vacancies, even if it is only for short-term work or at more reduced hours than you would like. Once you get your foot in the door, you may be able to build on this. Ask friends, family, colleagues and ex-colleagues for any information on job openings.
If you do spot a good job that is advertised as full time it may still be worth applying and asking whether the employer will consider some form of flexibility. Legally, you don’t have the right to request flexible working until after you have been in a job for six months, but if the organisation really wants you, you will have more leeway. The question is when to bring up flexible working at interview.
The good news is that a growing number of employers are coming around to the positives of flexible working for both employers and employees.
Here are our top five tips:
1. Before you apply: do your research and find out what the most progressive organisations for flexible working in your sector are. There are a number of awards which highlight companies who are family friendly, flexible or support agile working. Don’t just look to see whether they have a flexible working policy. Check whether they actively promote flexible working, for instance, they may have profiles on their website of staff who work flexibly.
2. Talk to friends and family and ask if they know of employers who are particularly open to flexible working. Use your networks and social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn to find out about any potential vacancies. People are often more willing to hire someone on a flexible basis if they already know them, for instance, they are an ex-colleague or recommended by someone who they trust.
3. Check out websites that specialise in advertising flexible roles like Workingmums.co.uk. Even if the employers on them don’t advertise roles with the precise flexibility you want, they will be more open to talking about flexibility. Some employers specifically say that a job can be done flexibly or as a job share.
4. After applying: the six million dollar question is when to bring up flexible working at interview if a role is not advertised as being able to be worked flexibly. There are many different opinions on this and every job situation is different so there are no hard and fast rules. Feel your way, but don’t make it the prime focus of your interview. Be clear what kind of flexibility you want – would you be able to work more days, for instance, if you had a homeworking option or flexi hours? Be prepared to negotiate.
5. Consider start-ups. They may be looking for people on a less than full-time basis as they grow and you may be able to get more hours as the organisation expands and your children get older.