How to progress in a job share

EY JobShareAfter three years sharing the role of Senior HR Business Partner in EY’s UK & Ireland Advisory business, Debra Dean and Lucy Carter are thinking about their next step within the company. They’re committed to staying together, which means they need to find, apply for and get any promotion together. Here’s how they recommend tackling progression as a pair.

Make joint career development an ongoing task

“Before you can even start looking for a promotion, you need to be properly established as a pair. If you try to progress before your partnership is a stable, demonstrable success, you’re unlikely to get very far.

“An ongoing way to achieve this stability is to focus on your joint career development. That means coaching each other, identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, and having an open dialogue about what you can do to improve. It also means having an agreed plan for the direction you might want to go in next.

“If this is something you’re doing regularly, taking a next step will be something you come to naturally together, and will be ready for.”

Think about how you’ll search and filter for roles

“We always say that, as a job share, our whole is greater than the sum of our parts, and that’s true of seeking promotion too. The way we coach and feed back to each other has given us a greater confidence about our capabilities, and a clearer idea of our red lines, than we would have had otherwise. This means we can be clear about whether progressing into a more senior role would be right for us.

“It’s also worth remembering that roles are rarely advertised as a job share. So you’ll need to give yourself as wide a choice as possible, by looking at the spec for full-time jobs and deciding whether you can make them work as a team.”

Get your joint admin and credentials right

“If you haven’t already got things like a joint email in place, now is the time. It’s by far the most professional way to communicate as a job share, and illustrates from the get-go that you work as a seamless pair.

“Similarly, we’d recommend creating a joint CV, which has a page that sums up what you’ve achieved together, as well as a page each for your individual strengths and experience.”

Remember to highlight the business case

“Even if your organisation is supportive of flexible working, you need to remember that not everyone is aware of the pluses of a job share. So take the opportunity to explain, either in your promotion case, application  or interview, how seamlessly you work together, how your current manager has benefitted from your set-up, and how it will improve the delivery of the role you’re applying for.”

Illustrate your teamwork during the interview

“If you’re an established job share, you should already be adept at holding joint meetings, so an interview shouldn’t be a tough hurdle, and can even be a way to showcase your compatibility. You might want to agree up front what kind of questions each of you would answer; you may even want to develop a visual ‘code’ to help you allocate responsibility for answering on the spot.”

Remember all the above when seeking an external move

“All the points we’ve raised here are equally valid if you’re applying for a role at another company. It’s also worth remembering that, as a pair, you’ll have double the network of a single individual, which means double chance of finding potential opportunities elsewhere. And the joint email account becomes even more necessary when applying for an external role, as many recruitment systems will only let you file one application.”

And what if you get offered the promotion or new job you’ve applied for? How do you decide whether to take it or not? Unsurprisingly, Debra and Lucy are agreed on the best way to tackle this:

“Ideally, you’ll be on the same page in terms of your goals and how you want to achieve them. And you’ll also have agreed any red lines up front (such as companies you wouldn’t want to work for, or responsibilities you’re not happy to take on).

“If so, you’re unlikely to get as a far as an offer for a job you don’t want. But if you do, the answer is simple: it will only be worth accepting if you both agree it’s the right next step.”

This article has been written in association with EY, one of our Timewise partners.

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