According to the Office of National Statistics*, over the last two decades, the number of working women has increased by over one million! There are a number of reasons for this, from the Government offering 30 hours a week free childcare for eligible families along with the offer of more flexible working patterns.

A lot of women see working part-time as the ideal option when bringing up children, especially when they are of pre-school age. The option seems to depict the ideal work-life balance but there are factors that need to be considered if this is an option.

1) Stigma – Working part-time can ultimately make some employers perceive you as being less committed to their career, which can be frustrating. Of course not all employers believe this but they are out there!

2) Boundaries with colleagues: If you are working part-time, then colleagues may well contact you when you’re not supposed to be working. Of course it is important to compromise but be clear to set boundaries so that you are not being contacted excessively.

3) Hours – is the pay cut worth it? Most people do have a certain level of income that they have to reach but after this, careful consideration is needed to weighing up the balance between the pay cut that usually comes with a reduction in “normal” working hours and essentially the “flexible” hours that you end up working as you don’t want to fall behind!! The main thing is that you are comfortable with whatever pattern works for you!

4) Flexible working – Consider ALL the options yourself, not necessarily less hours but different hours so make sure you are happy with this. Be clear on what you want this to be e:g. 4 longer days and a day off or working from home one day a week. Have a think about what working patterns could work for you and consider everything so you have as many options as possible to present to a potential employer.

How to find part-time work:

1) Finding a job you like is essential for success. If you are doing something that doesn’t suit, you will be unhappy at both work and home, potentially making you fee that you are failing at both. It might seem tricky to find that dream job but start by making a list of things that you DON’T want, this will soon give you some clarity as to what you do want. Also remember nothing is permanent, sometimes we just do things on an interim basis but they can still work for you. A lot of people don’t know where to start with this but aside speaking to a careers advisor or trying to find your previous role but on more flexible terms, there are lots of other avenues to explore finding that new path such as working with a coach, speaking to consultants like us and also trying something completely different like meditation to help them find their calling (check out yogawithche for some ideas)

2) Job title whilst off: There is mixed opinion here. My personal opinion is to only give yourself a job title here only if it’s relevant to for what you’re looking to do e.g. teacher, working with children.

3) Skills learnt whilst off as a mum: Highlight the skills that you have learnt during your time – they are relevant. From negotiating with a tantrum throwing two year old to juggling lots of things, which let’s be honest, means tremendous organisation skills. Thinking about any fundraising or PTA work that you might have been involved with, as well as any freelance projects. Also, if you have done any additional courses during your time off, mention them on your CV.

4) Utilise different job hunting methods as opposed to just the traditional online methods. Talk to other Mums and Dads – there is a good chance that some of these people already do work flexibly and they will be your biggest advocates. With flexible working becoming increasingly common practice, more and more recruitment agencies with a focus on connecting Mums with employers offering flexible working are popping up.

5) Apply for all roles online – whether they are full-time or part-time, apply for them!! There maybe flexibility – you don’t know until you ask. Ultimately you are in a much stronger position to ask for flexible working once you’ve demonstrated the strength of your skills. Also if using a recruitment agency, don’t be afraid to ask them.

6) Research local employers and their culture – this is key! What is their approach what are their core values? Remember 80% of the workforce are parents and more and more employers are offering it and beginning to really see the benefits of this way of working.

Our final blog in the series will be what employers can potentially do to help attract part-time workers and why this can be of real benefit to them.