shutterstock_152265662 (1)You are a qualified, experienced professional seeking a meaningful, flexible role to continue, even progress, your career.

You might be seeking to return to work after a period of parental leave. Perhaps you are already in a flexible role and would like to make a change. Or your permanent part-time role has been made redundant thanks to a ‘restructure’ or ‘reorganisation’? You may even have been on parental leave when you were informed your role was being ‘impacted’ in a restructure.

Can’t find anything suitable on-line? Most of the part-time jobs you see on job boards like Seek or LinkedIn are for candidates much less qualified, skilled and experienced than you. Some of the roles you do find which might be a possibility are casual or only paying an hourly rate – and certainly not providing you with an opportunity to draw on your significant experience and to move forward in your career.

Recruiters you meet tell you they are rarely briefed by clients for part-time roles. Did the Consultant lose interest in you, ‘glaze over’ or even cut the interview short when you mentioned that ideally, you would prefer a part-time role?

This is bewildering. You have so much to offer! You are efficient and productive at work. You would prefer an ongoing part-time role. Apart from everything else, childcare is expensive and once you have secured it, you want to hold onto it.

Out of frustration, you decide to start applying for full-time roles in your area of expertise, with a plan to explore a permanent part-time / flexible arrangement as you progress toward the end of the recruitment process. How will this request be viewed by the hiring organisation?

Movement in the Right Direction

Several of Australia’s top listed businesses now have an ‘All Roles Flexible’ policy. These initiatives are a significant step forward and are offering their employees flexibility in terms of where and how they work, and perhaps some flexibility in terms of hours.

However, many of these roles are still full-time roles, and are advertised as permanent full-time roles where flexibility can be negotiated if required. They are not necessarily offering flexibility in terms of time. It is worthwhile doing your research to find out if the organisation you are applying to has an ‘All Roles Flexible’ policy. If it does, then go ahead and ask for more information about their policy during the recruitment process.

A number of large organisations’ recruitment functions also now have the intention to start working with hiring managers to explore whether a role they are filling may be ‘flexible’ as opposed to full-time – so keep a lookout because we might see more part-time roles being advertised.

A number of organisations are also declaring themselves generally ‘flexible’ – which means they will consider requests for flexibility from existing employees as well as people joining the business – if they are the best candidate for the job. So if you do end up applying for a full-time role, and the organisation is promoting itself as flexible – then go ahead and ask to find out more about what type of flexibility might be possible.

Some organisations are now also actively pushing to find women for senior roles, especially in industries like Technology and Law, and in Banking and Consulting. They are enforcing a requirement to have at least one woman in four on every hiring short list – and they will consider flexibility for the right candidate.

And finally, if all else fails, and you could possibly make arrangements to work full-time for a while, make it your mission in the first six months in your new role to do an amazing job! Build relationships with your immediate Manager and those around you – so that you are confident when your first Review comes around, you can explore what flexible options might be available to you.

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