A whopping 40% of mothers at work in the United Kingdom are working part-time or flexibly (Office for National Statistics, 2018). That’s a whole lot of women tirelessly working whilst raising families or caring for others. Flexible working is the standard option for people who need to find a better work-life fit and many women are happily making use of it. However, it is no secret that there is a huge lack of flexible jobs available in the labour market, with around 90% of jobs offering above £20k per annum advertised with no flexible option (Timewise, 2018). The law that enables your ‘right to request flexible working’, unhelpfully, doesn’t kick in until you’ve been in a job for 6 months. This means many individuals who are ready to change their job can feel trapped or stuck in work that may not be satisfying or use the skills they have developed over their working life. Accepting career compromise in exchange for flexible working is an issue many women face – and the key finding of an MA research study I carried out. Women can often find themselves in jobs that provide all the flex they need, but trying to find a new job or move on, up or out of those jobs can sometimes feel like an impossible task – whilst flexible working is a priority. Therefore, it is no surprise that individuals working flexi and part-time can sometimes feel despondent when it comes to making positive changes to their career.
I am also a mum to two boys and for the last *ahem.. 17 years have maintained and developed my own career through navigation and negotiation of the flexible working landscape. I have worked in organisations leading recruitment, training and coaching initiatives and designed flexible recruitment strategies to attract and keep good people in companies. I am now a masters qualified and registered career coach – specialising in helping people who work part-time or flexibly (more often than not, mums) to positively manage their careers. By nature, I have evolved into an advocate for the ‘working mum’. I also spent three years whilst my children were small running a recruitment service that encouraged employers to recruit more flexibly to attract a talent pool of women into better, career-aligned jobs – specifically those who had been working below their capability or who had dropped out of the labour market entirely due to the difficulties in finding decent work providing any flexibility. To that end, I have experienced both sides of the coin.
Along the rocky and sometimes highly frustrating road of career progression for the flex working mum, I learned effective approaches (from both an employer and employee perspective) to overcome the challenges of managing a career alongside the need for flexibility and developed tools and strategies to secure great jobs on a more flexible working or part-time basis. I want to share this knowledge with women that work flexibly or part-time who, and I absolutely understand this, can often feel overwhelmed by the lack of choice they face in their career and help those who have taken career breaks back into flexible jobs they love.