How to get a job with a flexible work schedule

How do you ask for the flexible work schedule you want, in order to get the work-life balance you dream of? It is a great time to be a jobseeker, as more and more companies are recognising the benefits of flexible working. Jobseekers are asking for more flexibility, and getting it!

The jobs on Mothers & Careers’ job board are advertised as either part time roles or full time roles with flexibility. When a job advert states that an employer offers flexibility, it is not always clear what that means. Flexibility is a “catch-all” word that can mean flexibility around time, location or duration. It can mean working from home one day a week, working a compressed work week, sharing the role with another employee, starting later than usual and making up for it by working later or splitting the day in different parts (working morning plus evening but not afternoon) – and anything in between.

We recommend you read the job advert carefully to get a sense of what the employer may offer. If what you really want is a part time role then it may not make sense applying for a role that clearly states “full time”. However it can depend on the type of employer. A young startup company who is focused on cutting costs may be very willing to let you have exactly the flexibility you want (and usually has the latest technology to allow for it too) while a large, old organisation may have more bureaucratic rules and you may not have all the options you would like. However, many large organisations are changing with the times, and are realising that offering flexible working is a vital benefit to attract the future of tomorrow. It is always worth asking – and our experience is that you only get what you want by asking for it!

If you get to the stage of an interview, we recommend the following:

1. Focus on your skills and experience, not the fact that the job offers flexibility. Treat the job interview like any other job interview.

2. Get a sense of the company culture. How do they communicate? Do they work in teams?

2. When the time is right; ask the employer what is meant by flexibility. Be clear on what you want – but willing to compromise. Be enthusiastic on how to make it work. Be realistic. If what you want is to work from home on Mondays, but the company has a culture of allowing employees to work from home on Fridays, it may not make much sense to ask for Mondays. If home working is a possibility, provide information on how your workspace at home looks like, how your day would be and what communication tools you prefer.

3. If what you want is unusual for this employer, suggest a trial run. Tell the employer that you are a team player and that you are – indeed, flexible – if things don’t work out as planned. Flexibility from your employer demands that you are also able to offer the same in return.