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Tips for finding a flexible job

Many mums find that re-entering the work force can be a stressful thought. Balancing family, finances and your time can require some creative thinking, but don’t be discouraged.

There are employers who both want and need your skills and experience, and are more than happy to tailor a role to fit for you. It is just a matter of knowing where to look, who to talk to, and how to approach it.

To find a flexible job, simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Review your career aspirations. What do you want to do? Sit down with your  partner or friend and write down what your skills are and what you are good at. You may find that becoming a parent has changed how you feel about your career and your priorities. Re-visit it throughout the week to make sure you have covered everything. Work out the flexibility you need to manage work and family. Try to imagine how you might feel, but be realistic that you may not know yet how you will feel as a working mum. Research suitable job ads and look the skills that employers are looking for (note: the ad will list all desired skills, you probably will not need all of them). If you need to improve your skills and boost your confidence, look at doing a short course.

Step 2: Update your resume or CV. Think about the unpaid activities you have been doing and turn these into ‘work speak’. For example, raising money for a charity involves communication, business development, money handling, accounting and marketing skills. Tuck shop work involves customer service, and the ability to work in a team. If you’ve been doing the bookkeeping for your family business, research what businesses will pay you to do their bookkeeping. Volunteer work is a wonderful way to build up your work experience and to showcase your personal attributes so make sure you include this in your resume as well. Remember your resume reflects you so make sure you spend time on formatting, content, and grammar.

Step 3: Submit a proposal to work flexibly. If you are staying with your existing employer, make your desire to work flexibly clear to them at least a few months before you are due to return to work. Request a task list that outlines and itemises all the things you need to consider to return to work in a part time or flexible role such: as minimum working hours, work you will perform at home versus the office, and how client needs will be affected. If you are breastfeeding, and would like to check on your rights, click here.

If you are actively searching for a new employer, be very clear about your flexibility requirements upfront. Being as specific as possible will allow clear negotiation. If you see an ideal job being advertised that is full time, ask if they would consider flexible or part time working arrangements. The national skills shortage is providing an ideal environment for you to negotiate flexibility.

Step 4: Know your flexible job channels. Ensure that you register your name and other relevant information with a few job channels to ensure you have broad coverage. There are some avenues and companies that you will have much greater success with than others. Try your local newspaper, asking friends and family for recommendations of flexible employers. Great leads often come from people you know. Consider setting up yourself up as a freelancer or independent consultant/contractor. With good contacts, there can be an abundance of flexible work projects that employers can engage your services for on a short to medium term basis on a flexible arrangement. Many employers prefer this option as they only pay for your expertise and help on an as needs basis, therefore they are often more likely to meet your flexible needs. Remember that most jobs never even get advertised, so be proactive in putting your CV out to businesses you want to work for!

Look for flexible and boutique job boards and candidate boards that promote flexibility.

Set up a LinkedIn profile, and add your skills and experience. Follow companies you would like to work for and find groups that promote flexible working (even WAHM is on there).

Best of luck

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