Working 9-to-5: not the only way to make a living

The so-called ‘slashie’ career – doing several jobs – is something parents are increasingly taking up to get more flexibility. Coach Amanda Augustine has some advice on how to get the most from it.

Woman working at home


The rise of the side hustle – and similarly, the ‘gig economy’ – have been attributed in part to the aftermath of the financial-crash job market and has been largely associated with millennials who embrace this lifestyle as a way to offset the ballooning ratio of student debt to stagnant wages.

However, having what’s called a ‘slashie’ or ‘portfolio’ career is increasingly common amongst mothers re-entering the workplace after a break, whether that’s after a year or a decade. This approach is well-suited to the modern-day working mother for reasons such as better flexibility, health, well-being and creativity. Here Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV, looks at how to embrace this lifestyle and curate the right CV to support a non-linear career.

At a societal level, a slashie or portfolio approach is a framework for the future of work that recognises that the one-job career is largely passé for a growing number of workers. As with relationships, you cannot expect one person (nor one job) to provide 100 percent of your happiness – there will always be some level of dissatisfaction, whether it’s with your salary, your working hours or the lack of growth opportunity. When adding a child (or three) into the mix, and all the accompanying responsibilities, along with the shortage of ‘ideal’ part-time working opportunities, many decide it’s time to look at a different model.

Attitudes towards having multiple careers are beginning to shift. A recent ONS survey found that middle-aged employees no longer view career changes as negative, but rather as a challenge. In fact, many professionals are looking to ‘future-proof’ their careers by ‘upskilling’ or taking a side-step into a new field or industry, and many employers value the fresh perspective and skillset this can offer.

Returning to work after maternity leave can, therefore, be an ideal opportunity to dive into something new. Many employers will see this as a brave step and appreciate your desire to find a role that reflects your new life as a mother.
Below are three considerations if you’re interested in pursuing the slashie lifestyle:

  • List what you enjoy doing – and do well. Thinking back to your school days, what were your favourite subjects and why? When you’re not being a mother or working, what do you love to do? Do you have any hobbies you wish you could turn into a job? Of all the jobs you’ve held, which ones have you most enjoyed and why? This information will help you create a short list of potential career paths to research further.
  • Conduct informational interviews with people who have a career you find interesting so you can better understand what that work entails – the good and the bad – and if it’s a realistic career option. These conversations will also help you sort out which of your existing skills are transferable, and if there are any skill gaps you need to fill. Sites such as Meetup and 10times are useful for finding local events you can attend, based on your interests. These are great networking opportunities! And, if in doubt, you can search for relevant people on LinkedIn.
  • Mitigate excessive risk. It’s often easier to transition to a slashie career – especially if you’re planning to start a business of your own – when you have job security. If you’re returning to work after a maternity break, perhaps you can find a part-time job with regular working hours based on your former career, while you trial a side hustle
    (or two) that will fit round your parental duties. That way, there’s less pressure to make your side gigs profitable from the get-go.

It is, however, important to show potential employers that you aren’t a serial ‘job-hopper’. Businesses – even those hiring for part-time work – will want you to demonstrate a level of commitment. You’ll need to clearly state the reasons why a slashie lifestyle is the perfect fit for where you are in your life.

So, once you’ve established a ‘slashie’ career, how do you present on your CV your unrelated roles as a professional dog-walker, marketing strategist and pianist?

  • Think of your CV as a marketing document. Information should be curated to clearly explain to employers why you’re qualified to perform the role they’re filling. Each job in your work history should be framed with a specific vacancy in mind.
  • Illustrate your transferable hard skills (for example, a foreign-language proficiency, mathematics, writing) and soft skills (such as flexibility, time management or communication) that are considered valuable in your chosen line of work. This information can be sprinkled into your personal statement, referenced in particular roles within your work history and mentioned under the ‘education’ or ‘hobbies’ section of your CV. Being a mother also brings a unique skill set (time management, patience and multi-tasking), so make sure to emphasise these talents on your
    portfolio career.
  • Don’t include every job, especially if you’ve held multiple jobs, simultaneously. You can omit certain jobs altogether or remove irrelevant details so that your CV supports your current job goals.

While the trend towards having a portfolio career won’t be for everyone, it does represent a future way of working that provides greater flexibility and choice. For working mothers, it can effectively mean a portfolio of part-time jobs, avoiding ‘placing all your eggs in one basket’ and meaning greater financial security, as well as flexibility. Yes, the slashie career may be the by-product of an increasingly volatile and unpredictable economic climate. However, for many, it offers a sense of control and a professional-fulfilment road map that breaks the restrictions of a traditional 9-to-5 role, especially if you prefer working 5-to-9.

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