In any job search, remaining confident and positive is important: when looking for openings that only account for a fraction of job opportunities, it’s crucial. Establishing a strategy not only assists from a practical point of view, it also helps create personal resilience to help counter any challenges along the way.
The first step is to clarify the type of work and contract you want; this is often the hardest part. Not having one specific option in mind, however, is a big advantage. The key to finding flexible working opportunities is adopting a flexible mindset. Do, however, be clear about your objectives, as this will help determine the scope of your search. Start by listing the types of sectors, job functions and operating levels you are potentially interested in, together with the skills you would like to use. Add practical considerations, such as salary, location, hours and preferred number of days, then consider which elements are the most important to you. Defining your priorities will ensure that your energy and time is invested wisely in pursuing the opportunities that have the greatest potential.
A CV, specifically written to target part time work, is vital for your job search strategy. Whether you work with a professional CV writer or prepare one yourself, writing a CV provides an opportunity to assess, as well as promote your skills, experience and the value you can add to a business. You may be considering a new career direction. If so, then a strong emphasis needs to be placed on your transferable skills. An effective way of achieving this is through a prominent skills section with evidenced examples to demonstrate their value. If you are targeting different operating levels, then the language used in your CV can assist. For example, a managing director who wishes to move into part time consulting or a non-executive director role, needs to convey a guiding voice of experience not just a leadership tone. A CV that specifically targets the flexible work sector will place you in a strong position for both application and interview stage.
Confidence is as importance as competence in an interview process. People frequently feel the need to justify their desire to work reduced hours. We coach our clients to exude a positive future-focused outlook. An explanation for the question, “Why do you want to work part time?” needs to be clear, concise and delivered without a trace of an apologetic tone. This question though, shouldn’t be confused with “Why are you interested in this job?” A potential new boss wants to hear about the contribution you are keen to make and not how the hours will fit round your other responsibilities. In addition to job specific and competency questions, it’s advisable to prepare answers for commitment questions, as they are often asked in part time job interviews. The interviewer may ask what your long-term plans are or whether you can be flexible during busy peak times. Think through your availability, flexibility and any impactful external factors ahead of interviews. A hiring manager won’t welcome any surprises at a job offer stage, or worse still, after your first few weeks in a role.
Job boards and recruitment agencies are often the first port of call in a job search. However, with increased disintermediation within the sector, do explore all direct opportunities too; for example, company websites, networking and speculative approaches. Small companies or start-ups that may not have a recruitment budget, will welcome direct approaches from experienced individuals. Over the last few years progress has been made in the flexible job market; there is now an increasing number national firms which offer quality part time work. Identify the ones that most closely meet your criteria and monitor their company jobsite vacancies. In addition, follow companies that discuss and promote flexible work; track their plans to spot opportunities.
Know Your Value
If you are making direct approaches, target the companies where your skills, experience and personal qualities will make the strongest contribution. Someone with high-value experience working 3 or 4 days a week could be an attractive option for a small firm. For example, you may have experience in the skills-short technology sector or are a director who is happy to offset seniority with flexibility. We are often asked whether applying for a full-time position and then negotiating part time hours at an offer stage is an effective strategy. Our view is that it is risky to the candidate and unfair to the client. An upfront approach is always best. Present a plan on how you propose to meet the demands of the role working reduced hours and set out how this would also benefit the company.
We’d be delighted to offer you advice on your CV, job search strategy or interview preparation for your part time work objective, call us or use our contact form and we'll be in touch shortly.
Lastly, here are some links you may find useful, these include some specialist companies in the flexible and part time work sector that also include work from home.
Timewise is a national job board for flexi work and part time work
Capability Jane targets high quality, professional part time roles
Flexiworkforce is a job board advertising roles with flexible working hours
SkilledPeople focuses on employment for older candidates
Flexibility provides resources for the flexible work sector, including advice on a flexible working request