Hey mama, are you ready to return to work after having children? Does it feel daunting to find a role that will fit around your family life?
I’ve pulled together this list of 11 top tips to help you on your journey to find the perfect flexible job so that you can juggle work and motherhood.
As a mama to three young children, I know exactly how hard it can be to find a flexible job that allows you to use your talents and get paid fairly for it. And I have lots of friends that are returning to work after having children, and are finding it incredibly challenging to find a flexible job that works around school hours.
Here’s the 11 tips:
If you’ve been out of the workforce for any length of time, then this may be the hardest and the most important step. But lovely mama, trust me when I say that you’re not alone if you feel this way.
I had to deal with major imposter syndrome when I returned to work. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do my job, quite the opposite, but I had to mindfully and intentionally remind myself of why I was great at my job.
Some ideas of how to do this might be making of list of your relevant skills before having a baby and after having a baby, and think of some examples of how you used those skills to solve a problem. By doing this, you’re reminding yourself of just how you good you are.
Sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else. This might be your partner, your best friend, your mum, or a former colleague that you’re still in touch with. They’ll be able to identify other strengths that you may not have picked up on.
I’ve found that it pays to be organised in your job search, and setting up a simple system at the beginning can save you hours of time later.
The system that works for me is simply setting up 2 sheets in Google sheets or an excel doc.
Here’s an example of what the first sheet looks like:
This lists all of the job boards that I’m registered with, and any agencies I’m registered with and the key contact details.
Even though I’ll have job alerts set up from each job board, I’ll make it a point to check sit down for an hour or 2 every week and go through my alerts, and touch base with any recruitment agencies that I’m registered with.
Having this list speeds up the process, because I’ll literally work my way through the list and make sure that I haven’t missed any out.
The second sheet has the following headings:
- Job – list the job title
- Source – where I saw the job advertised (job board or agency)
- Link – a link to the direct page the role was advertised on
- Applied when? – the date I applied
- Downloaded copy of the JD – sometimes the job board will take the job description down when the job posting has expired, so I always make sure I have copied and pasted or taken a screenshot of the job description so that I can always reference it if I’m called for an interview.
- Heard anything? This is where I list if I’ve been called for an interview or had any response from the recruiter.
Here’s an example of what the second sheet might look like:
USE ONLINE JOBSITES
There are now a multitude of jobsites that are aimed at helping mums find flexible jobs. Be careful because there are some spam ones out there. I’ve pulled together a list of legitimate jobsites that you should definitely check out.
I’ve found that the best way to handle job sites is to set up relevant alerts to be emailed to you daily, and I tend to store these in an email folder when they come in.
And then once or twice a week I’ll set aside a couple of hours to go through all of the alerts that have come in, and see if there’s any relevant roles. But I won’t stop there, I’ll also use the first sheet that I created and work my way down the list and I’ll visit each job board and search using the relevant filters to see if there are any new jobs that may not have been picked up by the job alerts.
DON’T JUST LOOK AT PART-TIME JOBS
Another tip is don’t just limit yourself to looking for and applying for part-time roles. Keep your eyes peeled for full-time roles that you’re a perfect fit for. It won’t always work, but sometimes you’ll be able to negotiate a flexible role once you’re offered the role.
This article in Forbes “estimates that 50 per cent of flexible work schedules are negotiated on a case by case basis, with the terms of arrangement tailored to each individual situation.”
LEARN HOW TO NEGOTIATE TO WORK FLEXIBLY
This article by WorkOptions gives some great tips on how to negotiate a flexible work schedule. “Gathering information and applying the right timing to your request” are crucial to this strategy.
LOOK FOR EMPLOYERS THAT EMBRACE A FLEXIBLE WORKFORCE
Thankfully more and more companies are cottoning on to the benefits of a flexible workforce, and are embracing it. Spend a little bit of time identifying some of these companies that you might want to work for.
A starting point might be this list on the employers for Carers website. Working Families has also just published a list of The UK’s Top Employer’s For Working Families.
Once you’ve identified them, make sure you add them to the Job Search Tracker sheet that we mentioned in tip no 2. This way you can check on a weekly basis whether they’re recruiting for any relevant roles.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media can be a fantastic tool for finding a flexible job.
LinkedIn is the obvious place to start. Make sure you check out this article where we give you share some great advice on how best to use LinkedIn to find a flexible job.
However, don’t stop there. Facebook is also an excellent place to help you find a job that’s right for you. There are some fantastic facebook groups that not only list job vacancies, but also help connect you with tons of other mums that are in similar situations.
We’ve made a list of some of our favourite ones here.
DON’T JUST LOOK ONLINE
Don’t limit yourself by just looking online. Depending on the role that you’re looking for it might be worth checking out your local newspaper, job ads on notice boards in your local library, school or supermarket.
And also sometimes just picking up the phone and speaking to local companies might uncover some roles that they haven’t had a chance to advertise yet.
USE YOUR OWN CONTACTS
Mamas, there is so much power in the relationships that we have. I cannot tell you how many doors have opened up for me through friends, family and old colleagues.
So many jobs are not advertised anywhere, as some companies prefer to receive a recommendation from an existing staff member. So tap into your network of family members, friends, ex-colleagues, mums and dads at the school gate, and tell them that you’re looking… and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything.
Someone in your network will either hear of a vacancy or be able to introduce you to someone that can help… try it and see!
LOOK AT STARTUPS
Startups especially might be more willing to take on a mum on a flexible basis as they grow, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for these opportunities.
DON’T GIVE UP!
And finally, whatever you do, don’t give up. It may take longer than you expect to find the right role, but trust me, you will get there.
I hope this post helped. I’d love to know what your experience has been in your journey to finding a flexible job. Please share in the comments below.