The men who want flexibility

peopleThere is an assumption that the part time and flexible jobs market is female-focused. However, there are increasing numbers of men now looking for part time and flexible work. In fact, 1 in 4 candidates on Timewise jobs is male. We spoke to three men who have faced, or are facing, the same challenges and issues as women.

I want a portfolio career

Nathan Nelson wants a portfolio career to help him through college and pursue other passions. He believes employers should focus more on the individual and ask: “what have you got, what can you do and how can we help?”

“I started off with a full time career in IT, but I found it very stressful with long hours. Like a lot of people, I’d never planned to work in IT, and I realised that it wasn’t necessarily where my passion lay. Having re-assessed my options I decided I wanted to work in countryside management, so I went back to college to re-train. However, I also wanted to develop other career paths to work alongside my studies. At one point I had a 3-day week IT contract, college for one day and then a day focusing on conservation volunteering. It was perfect.

Unfortunately, the IT contract came to an end, so I now do ad-hoc social media work with a disaster relief charity. This means I don’t have the regular income I would get from a fixed, part-time role, which I would prefer. I would like to get rid of that end-of-month financial panic.

Ultimately, I would like a full time countryside management role, but competition is stiff for good roles, so in the meantime a diverse, flexible career path would be great while I build my experience.

I think people like to ‘career-label’ themselves, so I tend to stumble when I’m asked what I do for a living as it’s not one set path. I find this approach is something employers are not very comfortable with. Maybe I’m being naïve, but is it wrong to want to have a portfolio of careers?”

I don’t want to retire

Kevin Cusack is 61 and has a very wide range of experience. He wants to “work until he can’t”, but feels employers want candidates with only one field of expertise.

“I was made redundant after the business I worked for closed down, so I started to do volunteer work, which eventually led to a paid full-time role within a small charity, but this also became redundant. I am now looking for a part-time role with a small charity because it will offer more opportunities for greater flexibility.

However, I have a varied work history. I was a designer in the fashion industry in the UK and overseas, I trained as a life coach, and I’ve put my hand to nearly every discipline - from HR and Accounting to Comms and social media - in my charity roles. I don’t necessarily tick one career box, which businesses seem to prefer, but I think this should be seen as a great positive. Unlike many people of my age I am very IT savvy, having built databases, websites and led fundraising campaigns.

As a mature candidate, do I think there is age discrimination out there? In a word, Yes! Let’s be realistic, if you’re being interviewed by people who are significantly younger - which has happened to me - they’re not going to employ their grandad! To be honest, I think for some jobs candidates are seen as too old from their 40’s.

Of course recruiters should see beyond this. I want to work part-time and I have a lot to offer.”

Raising a family

Gianfranco Verdi moved to the UK after his wife’s job was relocated from Milan. He found job success by being more creative in his job search.

"When we lived in Italy I was an organisational consultant working long hours. I wasn’t that present at home and was very much career-focused. My wife has a successful career with a large corporation, and when she was offered the chance to relocate to the UK, I saw this as an opportunity to scale things down and spend more time with my three children.  As a result, I became a full time parent and did some volunteer work to help keep up to date.

When my youngest child started school, I decided to look for part time work. As my area of expertise is HR, I initially applied for jobs in this area, but it was a slow process and very competitive. This made me re-assess my options and think more deeply about the job I want. I didn’t want to lose the time with my children, and I really enjoyed volunteer work, so I started looking in the charity sector.

This change of approach proved very successful and I got a job. I now work 21 hours a week, during school hours, which means I can do the school run and help with homework and after school clubs. The charity I work for specialises in getting older, retired men into the Abbey Community centre to socialise and be active. It’s very rewarding.

I was lucky. I had a positive experience in finding a part time role. Compared to Italy, the market in the UK is more accessible, but I did have to be realistic, think creatively and reassess my options to get the role I wanted."  

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