The best ways to negotiate flexible work arrangements in a new role (Guest Blog by Employee Champion)

After 15 years in Human Resources, I find that I often get family / friends asking questions about their workplace “can they do that?!”.

I am currently on parental leave and so to fill what I think is a need out there for plain english “HR” information, and to keep my brain “in the game” I recently started a blog and Facebook page called Employee Champion.

As I started this journey I asked for feedback about what it is people would like me to post about, and returning to work after maternity leave is a popular topic! An interesting question posed to me by Kim Stone (Undercover Mum) was my thoughts on how women can find and apply for professional part time roles.

So, I accepted the challenge and decided I should first put my own thoughts and theories to the test and I put a question out to some Facebook Groups I am in.

Specifically my question was:

“I’m interested in anyones experiences with applying for a professional role advertised as full time, and then asking for consideration to go part time. That is, a brand new role and Company, not one you have worked in before.”

The feedback I received was not unexpected, and combined with my own experiences, here are my top tips:


1. Apply for roles that are advertised as full time

I am already ducking the rotten tomatoes being thrown at me by some Managers! Because, sure, I understand that when you go to market for a full time resource and you find the “perfect” candidate only to discover they want to work part time it can be disappointing.

However, it is very rare that a professional role will be advertised as part time. There is no intentional discrimination happening, just purely that in the business world we work with FTE and job design accordingly. Part time roles will only be advertised in situations like where the previous person was part time, there are budget constraints, it is a job share arrangement, or the Company is very progressive and understands good talent is hard to find if you aren’t open to other working arrangements.

A quick Seek search on 20 June 2016 for part time jobs earning between $80k and $120k per annum in Sydney gave me 209 results, and if I added in the keyword “Manager” this reduced to 137 results. Let’s compare that to full time jobs which gives me 12,500 results, and with the keyword “Manager” reduced to 10,442 results.

This means that at this given point in time, there are almost 60 times more jobs advertised full time than part time and 76 times more “Manager” jobs that are advertised as full time.

Therefore don’t reduce your job market by not considering roles advertised as full time!


2. Get ready to not just sell yourself, but your working arrangements

Now you have applied for a full time role, and received an offer for an interview, it is time to get prepared.

Do NOT state on your cover letter or application that you are looking for Part Time work (there are those tomatoes again). It is too easy to dismiss a piece of paper. You need to sell not just yourself in the interview, but also your working arrangements.

Most organisations will ask during the interview process a question along the lines of “This role is 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday, generally the days are 9am-5.30pm ; would there be any issues with that for you”. Now these questions are worded carefully to avoid any potential discrimination claims, and that is fine, because this is your chance to jump in and shine.

“Actually, I was wondering if you would consider a flexible working arrangement….” and then give the examples of how it could work, reasons why it will work, and how you have the skills and experiences to bring to the table that they really need.

Now maybe you think this isn’t a successful strategy, but the feedback I received is that it will work and it does. Across different industries and different roles, and even people Management positions, I was given examples from mums just like you who have done this successfully.

If you can, you may even be able to agree to a trial period. Give it 3 months and then have a discussion. That gives the employer comfort that you are considering the business willing to have a situation that works for the business and for you. In this situation the Company can hire you “full time” and give you employment documents to this end, but then an additional letter confirming they are agreeing to trial a flexible working arrangement from date to date. Win-Win!


3. Target employers who are recognised for their gender equality policies and processes

Each year, all non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees have to report on statistics and policies related to gender equality to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. There is a specific citation given to organisations that are considered by the WGEA as “Employers of Choice”. You can check out the list here.

It is also worth checking websites like Jobs for Mums, FlexCareers and Diverse City Careers. Even if there are no roles in your speciality, it will give you an idea of the types of organisations that are trying to attract women into their workforce.

As so many vacancies go unadvertised, it can be worth reaching out to organisations that appeal to you directly and submitting your details for any future roles.


4. Contact recruitment agencies in your field

Let them know what you are looking for, as they can be a great third person to “sell” you to the client. Remember, they want you to get that job too in order to get their sale!


Lastly, best of luck!

Being out in the job market can be hard, and demoralising, especially after a break from the workforce. Have faith in yourself and make sure you prepare fully for interviews. Understand the Company and the role before you apply and have that shine through in your application and interview. You can do this!


More workplace tips

Come along and visit me at Employee Champion for a weekly post covering a question submitted, and also other workplace tips and articles.

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The best ways to negotiate flexible work arrangements in a new role (Guest Blog by Employee Champion)

2 thoughts on “The best ways to negotiate flexible work arrangements in a new role (Guest Blog by Employee Champion)

  • August 3, 2017 at 8:44 am

    If flexibility is so important that you ask directly as part of your negotiated work terms, are you ready to decline the job offer if those terms aren t met?

    • August 4, 2017 at 6:24 am

      That’s a great question for anyone negotiating workplace flexibility to consider before they start negotiations.


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