How to find flexible jobs that fit around children

Working mumFamily life can be pretty full-on, so it’s no surprise that a lot of parents want to work flexibly. And increasingly, dads as well as mums are looking to work a non-traditional week. If that sounds like you, take a look at our advice on how to find a job that works for you all.

THREE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU START LOOKING

  • Weigh up your childcare options and costs

The first thing you need to get clear in your mind is what your potential childcare options are. For example, if you have family nearby, or your job will cover the cost of a nanny, you can probably be really flexible about your flexibility. If you don’t, you will need to factor in school, nursery or childminder timings. You may feel it’s worth taking a short-term hit on the cost of childcare if your children are small, which should hopefully pay off in the long run.

  • Consider what kinds of flexibility would work for you

As well as the traditional part-time route, there are a growing number of other patterns that might suit you. For example, working from home for some of the week could make your school run easier to manage. Or you could adjust your working day so that you start and leave early, to allow you to be there for pick-up. Other options are: compressed hours, such as four longer days instead of five standard ones; job sharing; or even term-time only. Speaking of which...

  • Give some thought to how you’d manage school holidays

Working parents can find school holidays, especially the long summer break, a real challenge. So it’s worth thinking in advance about how you might tackle it. Could you arrange ‘childcare swaps’ with other working parents, or ask family members to have them to stay for a mini holiday? Would you be able to afford summer camps or full-day holiday childcare in the kind of role you might go back to?

FIVE THINGS TO DO TO KICK START YOUR SEARCH

Having worked out the balance you’re hoping for, you’re well-placed to start looking. These pointers should help make your search more successful.

  • Don’t rule out applying for full time jobs

There are still far fewer flexible jobs than people who want them. The most recent Timewise Flexible Jobs Index found that only 11% of jobs paying more than £20k OTE are advertised as being open to flexibility. However, we have also found that 9 in 10 managers would be open to discussing flexible working with new recruits – they just don’t say so up front. So unless your flexible options are really limited, it can be worth applying for full time roles that suit your skills and experience, then negotiating once you’ve got an offer.

  • Create a stand-out LinkedIn profile

Networking is a brilliant way to find out about potential opportunities, especially those which aren’t advertised formally. LinkedIn is the perfect platform for this – so if you’re not already on it, you’ll need to be. Upload a professional picture, write a sharp summary, and ask former colleagues to endorse you. Then get active, posting or sharing interesting content and commenting on other people’s, to keep you front of mind.

  • Talk about your plans with everyone you know

It’s also important to remember the value of informal networking, particularly within the parenting community. You never know who your schoolgate contacts might work for, or what opportunities they might know about; and you certainly won’t if you don’t bring it up. So be open in all your conversations about the fact that you’re jobhunting, and see where it takes you.

  • Research flex friendly recruiters and employers

Some recruiters and employers are less willing than others to accommodate candidates’ flexible needs, so it’s worth prioritising those that do. At Timewise Jobs, for example, we only advertise part-time and flexible roles, so any organisation you come across on our jobs board will be flex-friendly. You could also check out the employers who have signed up to our Hire Me My Way campaign, signalling their openness to flexible working. It’s also worth looking at company websites for flex credentials.

  • Consider speculative applications

If your research reveals a company that you would really like to work for, it may be worth putting in a speculative application. Even if they don’t have a specific job advertised, it will show them that you are proactive and enthusiastic, and may help put you at the top of their list if a suitable role becomes available.

ONE FINAL THING TO REMEMBER

  • Skills first, flex later

Even the most flexible employer out there isn’t interested in your need to work flexibly. They want to know why you’re the best person for the job, what skills you will bring and what attitudes you display. So make sure you sell yourself first and foremost; and ask about flexibility when the time is right.

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