After losing her job last November, Sarah is now trying to find a new career path.
Sarah had been working in the hotel industry for over 16 years, but had to reconsider her career when, due to the pandemic and staff cuts, she was fired in November 2020. She says that ever since “it has been quite a difficult time to find something in hospitality so I decided to look for something in a different direction”.
She used to be an event operations and in-room dining manager, but now she is working temporarily as a receptionist in a dental practice. She had to look for a new career not only because of the difficulty in finding a job in hotels, but particularly a flexible one.
At first her new employer asked her to work full time in her new receptionist role, but eventually her employer offered her a part-time position which would allow her to manage childcare.
Indeed, ever since she became a mother, finding a flexible job has been her biggest struggle. “Now, when I’m looking for a job I always need to have in mind that I have a child, so I need to find one that fits around school hours,” explains Sarah. “My husband also works in hospitality so it has definitely been more challenging and that’s why it might be taking me a bit longer to find something right, which would be suitable for us.”
Sarah is not the only mother impacted by strict working hours. A survey conducted by workingmums.co.uk shows that 53% women had turned down a job which was not flexible enough for them and 75% said they were more likely to change jobs if there were more flexible jobs advertised.
Having to navigate motherhood and a job simultaneously also impacted Sarah’s career progression. She believes that, as a parent, if you have a choice, career progression is not as important as spending time with your child.
But at the same time Sarah worries about the future and the lack of flexible jobs discouraged her from applying to higher roles or positions which would have required too much of her time without leaving any for her son.
“Not every company, especially in hospitality, understands that you might need flexible options […] so when you apply for a senior role they expect you to work there seven days a week which is difficult when you have a family and you know you cannot commit to those hours,” says Sarah.
She adds: “If there’s a possibility to work more flexibly for me, I would definitely feel more confident to go for higher roles.” However, she is optimistic to see more jobs advertised as flexible. Sarah believes that the pandemic has made more people aware of their time and how much they can benefit from more flexible working hours or working from home.
At the moment the most important aspect for Sarah when applying to a role is that it should allow her to plan her daily schedule. “If you’re an operations manager, things are changing all of the time. There’s always lots of extra things coming up and you can’t really predict your day or plan accordingly,” she explains.
Flexibility, for Sarah, would mean having a chance to control her working hours and allowing her to balance it with her family life.
These benefits would definitely encourage her and many other working mums to progress in their careers, applying to more senior roles and even possibly working full time if flexibility is offered to them.
*Sarah is not her real name. The full survey results can be found here.