Do high level flexible roles actually exist?
This is one of the most common questions that we encounter from former professionals who are investigating their options for returning to work. Fortunately, is it also a topic that more UK employers are starting to address with the help of specialist recruiters such as Capability Jane, Timewise Jobs and Ten2Two.
For example, last week Capability Jane was advertising a 3 day a week Marketing Director role and a Managing Director role for 16-24 hours per week. Both these opportunities come from SMEs, organisations which often value part-time working because it provides a way of acquiring the skills they need at a lower cost than a full time employee.
Speaking at the Mumsnet Workfest earlier this year, Karen Mattison, the founder of Timewise Jobs, suggested that while many large private-sector organisations are open to offering flexible working as a way of retaining valued talent, SMEs may be more likely to consider flexible working for new hires.
Timewise Jobs in 2012 initiated the Power Part Time list of 50 senior business women and men, demonstrating that high-level part time working is possible. The 2013 list will be launched in early December, supported by Red magazine. I hope that these initiatives, combined with the Opportunity Now 2840 survey results will increase the debate on flexible employment opportunities and the creation of more senior flexible roles.
So how do I find a flexible role?
What options does a returner have, apart from signing up to the job websites highlighted above?
Networking. As with all other job searches, a key component will be networking. Personal recommendation and validation will get you a lot further in your discussions and negotiations than applying remotely for advertised roles. If you are nervous or uncomfortable about networking, check our previous posts.
Apply for full-time roles.
You also have the option of applying for full-time positions in the hope that you can negotiate flexible working arrangements once you’ve been offered the role. You can mitigate the risks of this strategy by learning as much as you can about the organisation’s culture, its openness to flexible working and the existence of other flexible roles. You will need to build a convincing business case for how you will fulfill all the role requirements in a less than full-time schedule.
Go self-employed. Often the most flexible way of working is to work for yourself; consider freelancing, associate work, project work and interim roles as well as starting your own business. We’ll be looking at these options in more detail in future posts.
Create your own flexible role. Identify gaps at a previous employer (eg. talent management or business development) that you could propose to fill. Or develop a portfolio of roles, such as non-exec board positions or higher education lecturing.
We will shortly start to publish stories of returners who have successfully found or created flexible roles and will continue to highlight opportunities as we hear about them. We’d love to hear your own experiences of seeking or gaining flexible work.
For more resources to help you to find a flexible role, see our resources section on www.womenreturners.co.uk.
Posted by Katerina