How to negotiate flexibility at job offer stage

27 Mar 2018

how to negotiate flexibilityCongratulations - you’ve got a job offer! Now is your moment to make your case for flexible working and explain your situation as a carer.  

If the position was advertised as open to flexible hours or part-time, or if the topic arose in the interview stages, your employer will be expecting to thrash out the details. But if the job wasn’t advertised as flexible, and it didn’t feel appropriate to ask at interview, now’s the time.

We know that negotiating isn’t easy, especially if you’re feeling nervous that your request might be rejected and you might lose the job offer. The process involves preparation, strategy and a steady nerve. Yet, none of that means you shouldn’t give it a go, or that the employer won’t get on board with your needs.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get what you want:

Show your enthusiasm

First things first: thank the hiring manager for the job offer. Impress upon them how happy you are to have got the role and how excited you are at the prospect of working for the company. Then you can say that before accepting the offer, you’d like to have a conversation about flexible working. (Be sure to check out the benefit schemes that come with the offer before entering negotiations. It may be the company has a Carers Policy, which you could use to support your case.)

Think of flexible working as a benefit, just like the salary

Have an idea in your head of what you want, what the employer will want, and be prepared to meet somewhere in the middle. We know that 9 in 10 UK managers are open to flexible working for the right candidate and, as you’ve just been offered the job, you can safely assume that’s you.

Offer a solution, not a problem

Package your need for flexible working as something that will work well for the role, and find ways to back-up your case. For instance, have you worked flexibly in previous roles, and can you explain how successful it was? Can you suggest that working from home for certain tasks will make you more productive? Will working remotely permit you to start earlier or perhaps stay connected later? Present your need for flexible working as a benefit to the employer.

And remember, you don’t need to give emotional or extensive details about your life as a carer; a brief explanation will suffice. Negotiating flexibility isn’t about the why - it’s about the how.

It’s all in the pitch

Reaching an arrangement you’re happy with will depend just as much on the way you negotiate, as what you’re actually negotiating. Be confident, calm, straightforward and definitely not emotional, even if you feel there’s a lot riding on this. Practise your pitch beforehand, because it’s all in the delivery - if you don’t sound like you believe this is a good idea which can work, the employer certainly won’t.

Be flexible about your flexibility

Remember negotiation is a two-way street. Your ability to meet your caring responsibilities is your number one priority, but it won’t be the employer’s. So can you meet them halfway? For example, could you adjust the hours you want from time to time, when the business needs it? Could you take a three month trial period full-time, with the intention of moving down to a four day week once you’re settled in the role? Have a conversation and reach a compromise - it will show willing to your employer, which is an attitude they will thank you for.

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