Managing Director of Links International
Finding the truly flexible
I used to work in the media, which meant really long hours. I quit two years ago because I was pregnant with my first child. I was freelancing six months after I gave birth but have since struggled to find a full-time job. I have found that, while so many companies talk about diversity, it is mostly lip service and finding a job that provides flexibility for working mothers is hard. Where should I be looking?
It can be difficult to find the right work-home balance at different points in your life. Diversity means many things and I wouldn’t assume that a company doesn’t value diversity simply because they aren’t offering you a flexible position.
Even within one company, there may be departments with different needs and hiring managers who vary greatly in terms of their willingness and ability to offer flexible hours.
Are you trying to find a part time job, a job share or a full time position? When you say flexibility what are your priorities?
There are many paths to take to find the right position for you that fits from a career and lifestyle perspective.
First, do some research and see which companies are acknowledged as promoting career opportunities for working mothers. There is a lot of magazine and other press coverage on this topic. Certain companies are noted for their flexibility. You should explore opportunities with them.
Another choice is to target companies of interest to you. Contact both HR and the hiring manager to explore possible roles. If you have good rapport, then ask about a flexible role, having defined it for yourself. Tell them how you would make the position work and how you would add value.
Talk to a few recruitment firms and explain your interest in a flexible role. They may have companies looking for contractors who work flexible hours. Also develop a good online profile, noting that you are open for part-time or flexible-hour positions.
Taking a part-time or flexible position usually means you will have to work hard to prove your effectiveness. You need to be organised and efficient, but you will also have to know how to draw the line on how much work you take home and how many calls you answer when you are out of the office.
Debbie Matson is managing director of Links International. With a strong regional presence in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, Links International provides recruitment, payroll and HR services.