Career Tips

Going part time doesn’t have to mean going backwards

Adele was determined to find a role that would give her the flexibility she needed to be a mum whilst advancing her career. Here's how she found it.

Whilst on maternity leave with her second child and as a result of a site relocation process, Adele made a tough call not to move with her current employer and to start looking for flexible role that would better suit the needs of her family, although she was adamant she did not want to take a step backwards in her career. She explored all the usual channels – Seek, LinkedIn, recruiters, set up mail alerts from all the big employers and invested in networking. After a colleague liked a FlexCareers job advert on Facebook she decided to create a profile and explore the job opportunities on the site. By having an up to date profile on FlexCareers, Adele received relevant job alerts and when she saw a part time HR manager role she applied immediately and secured an interview.

“I felt confident walking into my interview at Bonnier Publishing Australia because they already knew I wanted a flexible role, and it was clear from the outset that flexibility is just part of the way things are done here, from the Senior Leadership Team down. Usually I dread raising the issue of the daycare drop off/pick up juggle but it is liberating when you can have an open and honest discussion with a prospective employer about the reality of being a working parent”.

Adele spent 3 months looking for her ideal role and during this time she was on the emotional rollercoaster synonymous with the job search journey. She was nervous she wasn’t going to be able to think on her feet and tap back into the knowledge she had developed in her previous positions. She knew she had the experience, but after being out of the workforce for a year she didn’t feel like she was at the top of her game.

“Getting the right mix of flexibility, without feeling like I was taking a backward step in my career was my main goal. Part time HR Manager roles are not frequently available, so having the patience to wait and stick to my guns about what I would and wouldn’t apply for was really tough!! I was getting pretty desperate to get out of the house and use my brain again and the mentality to settle for a role which is ‘good enough’ was really hard to resist. I also had to maintain a level of self-confidence that I was worthy enough to hold out for the right opportunity, and I am so glad that I did!”

So often as mothers we need to listen to our gut instinct when making decisions for or about our children and when it comes to making a career move Adele implores woman to tune into their instincts. “Listen to your gut feel about the company, the role and the manager. If it doesn’t feel right, another opportunity will come along, so have the patience and confidence to know when to proceed and when not to. DON’T SETTLE if you absolutely don’t have to!! If it’s not the right role/company/manager, it won’t be the right move for you (or your family) in the long run.”

Adele’s move has been a really positive experience for her and she is thriving with her new employer, primarily because flexibility is embraced from the top down and outputs are valued more than presence. “I have the ability to work as part of a Leadership Team who each work flexibly in a way which works for them. For example, the CEO works from home on Mondays, one of our Publishing Directors works from home 2 days a week, the CFO drops his kids to school and goes to the gym in the middle of the day. It’s really all about give and take and this acceptance that flexibility is just the way we do things and it flows down from there. I’m technically in the office three days a week and work up other hours when I want or need to. I never feel guilty or uncomfortable about having to pick up the kids from daycare, where previously I absolutely would have had a knot in my stomach at the prospect of leaving the office at 4.30pm, because I know it’s my output which is valued, not the amount of hours I’m seen at my desk in the office. I’m definitely a better mum for being able to stretch my brain outside the traditional ‘family responsibilities’, while still having a couple of day’s one on one with the kids. “

Even though Adele loves her job and her employer, she still acknowledges that being a working parent can be a struggle. Here are her top tips for making it work:

  • The constant juggle means that the parenting/work juggle is never going to be perfect, so just “do what you need to do to get through” and try not to get hung up on the mummy guilt!
  • Everyone has an opinion on how to manage raising kids and a career, but take what they say with a grain of salt because everyone has to do what’s right for them and their very individual circumstances
  • Listen to your gut. It’s usually right
  • Wine!

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