This guest blog post was written for and featured on Employee Champion.
Working part time since becoming a mum has enabled me to enjoy motherhood and a corporate career at the same time. I know from reading media articles that there are working mums out there who believe that working part time is unfulfilling and is preventing them from being promoted. This may be the case for some organisations and roles. I believe it is possible to find a fulfilling part time career that fits with your desire to spend more time with your family. Since becoming a working mum I have had both experiences.
~~~What I didn’t know at that point in my career was that I could have applied for full time roles and negotiated flexible work arrangements or a part time role anyway. ~~~
When I first returned to work my first baby was 8 months old. I was missing my career immensely and going a little stir crazy (despite having an awesome mother’s group).
While on maternity leave my two year government contract role was due to expire. At the time that this contract was nearing its end date I started thinking about going back to work. This was not a coincidence. I knew that negotiating a part time role with an organisation that knew me well would be easier than trying to do so with a new organisation. I also knew from scanning job ads that most roles in my field were advertised as full time. What I didn’t know at that point in my career was that I could have applied for full time roles and negotiated flexible work arrangements or a part time role anyway.
So I negotiated to return to my pre maternity leave role in a part time capacity, two days a week on a new 3 month contract. In theory I was returning to the same organisation in the same role. Except that it wasn’t. The organisation had undergone a name change and restructure while I was on maternity leave. Most of the remaining staff were the same, some were new and the role I had been in had vanished. No one had been backfilling my role because the work I did was no longer required. The type of work I was expected to do was meaningless to me and did not utilise my skill set compared to my previous full time roles. Within a couple of months I was cruising job ads at night looking for a more meaningful part time role that matched my skill set.
~~~I felt unreliable and my ability to achieve project milestones
was severely affected by my short work week.~~~
In the meantime I was learning that working two days a work meant I was out of the office most of the week. Some weeks I only made it into the office one of those days due to sick or carers leave as my family’s immune systems adjusted to the new daycare germs. Fortunately I had plenty of sick leave banked from my full time working days, however I felt unreliable and my ability to achieve project milestones was severely affected by my short work week. When I did work two days a week I would often reach the end of the second work day wishing I had one more work day to finish something off.
Since all the job vacancies that interested me were advertised full time I ended up applying for a full time role with a large organisation I had previously worked for. At the end of the online application process the website announced I was not eligible to apply for the role. The role was only open to internal applicants of the organisation. I was disappointed to say the least and not even sure if my resume and cover letter had been submitted into the online system.
A few weeks later I received a call from a manager of the large organisation. We had worked together previously and she had seen my application for the internal job vacancy. She asked around and discovered I had left the organisation, had a baby and was working part time. There was another role that had just become vacant in her team that was 3 days a week and she wanted to consider me for the role! The role she invited me to interview for had not been advertised.
~~~The new part time role not only matched my skill set and career aspirations, it also enabled me to grow my skill set and positioned me for career progression within the organisation.~~~
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. My existing part time contract was about to end and my manager had set up a conversation with HR about whether I wanted an extension. I accepted the new part time role and declined an extension on my existing part time role.
The new part time role not only matched my skill set and career aspirations, it also enabled me to grow my skill set and positioned me for career progression within the organisation.
I also discovered that working 3 days a week was more fulfilling as well. I was in the office most of the week and able to contribute significantly more than I had working two days a week.
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