Five questions to ask yourself before applying for a flexible job

Man thinkingIt’s rare to find a role that ticks all your boxes. But if you need a part-time or flexible job, you may have to think through a few extra things before deciding whether you can make it work. And if you do the thinking up front, it will save you time and hassle later on.

Here are the five questions you should ask yourself before applying for any part-time or flexible job.

  1. Does it offer the flexibility you need?

Firstly, you need to get clear on what flexibility you need and whether the role can offer it. For example, if it’s advertised as four days per week, it’s unlikely that the employer will scale it down, unless you can demonstrate that you can deliver the same outputs in less time. Whereas, if you could manage three days in the office and one from home, that’s a negotiation that’s more likely to succeed.

If the role is advertised as ‘open to flexibility’, it’s harder to know whether it will match your requirements, so you’ll need to think about what you can offer. Take a look at the job spec and ask yourself whether it’s feasible to deliver it within the time you’ve got. And think through how flexible you can be about the arrangement you’re looking for.

  1. Do you have the right support in place?

Once you’ve got your head around what’s on offer, you then need to sense-check your ability to deliver it. For example, if it looks like you’ll need to be in the office on fixed days, and you have children, how will you manage school drop-offs and pick-ups?  What about the holidays? If you’re caring for a relative, is there anyone else who could help if there is an issue on one of your working days?

Quite rightly, most employers are supportive of employees who have commitments outside work. But you will save yourself a great deal of stress if you have the right support and back-up in place.

  1. Does the role offer you the chance to progress?

You should also have a think about what your ambitions are. Not all part-time and flexible jobs offer opportunities for progression to the next level, though this is something all of us at Timewise are working to change.  So if you have aspirations to develop your career, it’s worth exploring where the role could take you, either within the organisation or elsewhere.

  1. Is the commute manageable?

A long or complicated commute can be the difference between a positive and a negative working experience. If you’re going to have to travel 90 minutes each way, that’s an added pressure, particularly if you’re having to work around childcare. Plus, a long journey invariably comes at a high financial cost. So it’s a good idea to weigh up whether the role merits the commute and whether it’s feasible, and affordable, on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Do the sums add up?

Finally, on the topic of finances, you’ll need to think through what kind of salary you want (or need) to make the return to work financially viable. This is particularly true if you need to factor in paying for childcare or other support, or a high commuting bill.

Our part-time calculator will help you work out what you would actually be paid based on the full-time salary and the number of hours you would be working. You can then filter which roles you apply for based on whether the proposed salary is enough to more than cover any potential costs.

This might seem a lot to think about up front – but it’s time well spent. Getting clear on what you can and can’t do will allow you to focus on applying for roles that will work in practice. That’s not only the best use of your efforts, it’s the secret to finding a role that will allow you to thrive.

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