Now that the kids are back at school, I know a lot of mums will be ramping up their job search efforts.
As a career consultant, I field a multitude of job search questions every day, so today I thought I would share my answers to the 4 questions I most commonly get asked by return-to-work women looking to find that ideal, family-friendly role.
1. How do I handle the gap on my CV?
You don’t want a potential employer having any unanswered questions about your application, so first and foremost don’t avoid the gap, but explain it. Find more on how to do this here. Focus your cover letter and CV on what you have to offer in terms of skills and capability, and highlight how you have kept your experience and industry knowledge recent and relevant during your time outside the workplace. For ideas and inspiration on how to fill your CV during your career gap, take a look at this list being created by Multiple Minds.
2. What’s the best way of finding a part-time or flexible job?
Research conducted by Timewise, the UK-based work flexibility specialists, found that while more than half of the UK workforce work part-time or flexibly, less than 1 in 10 jobs advertise this. The good news is though, they have also found that 91% of managers are willing to discuss flexible work arrangements during the recruitment process.
Just because a job isn’t advertised as part-time or flexible, this doesn’t mean it isn't possible. So if you are well qualified for a role advertised as a full-time position, our advice is go ahead and apply for it. Once you think you have a real chance in the hiring process, then you can start discussing your requirements.
Before you apply though, it’s worth doing some research on the company to try to find out how open they are to flexibility. Do they already have employees working this way? And look carefully at the job description. Is it a role that you are sure can be done in less time or with the flexibility you're looking for? This is important because you'll need to present a good case for making flexibility work in the role should you receive a job offer.
3. At what stage in the job application process should I bring up flexibility?
The important thing to remember during the recruitment process, is that employers are only looking for the talent and skills you offer. Mentioning your flexibility requirements at the application/ cover letter stage is a no-go. At the interview stage there are no hard or fast rules, but experts tend to agree you should wait until you receive a job offer. At this stage you'll know for sure you're the best person for the job, and your request for flexibility will be taken seriously.
4. Is networking really that important? How do I find the time to network with my already over-scheduled and booked calendar?
More than 80% of jobs are found through networking, so yes, networking really IS that important. Begin building your confidence by taking baby steps. Start by simply talking and putting yourself out there. Baby groups, toddler groups and the school playground are rife with great contacts, don’t overlook them. Whether it’s 10 minutes or two hours, just try do one thing every day toward making connections and building your network. After all, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step!
Now I'd like to ask you… What is your biggest job search question or challenge?
Please leave your comments below and tell me what's on your mind, and I will reply with my thoughts.
If you'd like some additional support finding a job that ticks all your career and family boxes, take a look at Get Hired!, my step-by-step guide to the modern job search.
The course includes:
5 jam-packed modules with hands-on, how-to information, tips and exercises.
Easy to customise templates including CV, cover letter, 'elevator pitch' and email networking.
Membership in my private Facebook Group - WHM Job Hackers - where you can network and troubleshoot with other mums, and get direct access to me to answer your questions and help you get the most out of the course.
You can find the full course details including the curriculum and FAQ's here.
Melanie Fieseler is a Career Consultant and Director at Work Happy Mums, the go-to resource for return-to-work professional women and career advancers. We're building a better future for working mothers and the organisations they work for. Join our community and help both our families and businesses thrive.
Here on the blog we offer insights and tips that will empower you to create a career and life that works for you wherever you are in your parenting journey.