Returning to work – Your guide to finding a flexible job!
Despite a national skills shortage, finding flexible working conditions can still be a challenge. Luckily, many moms who want to return to the workforce after the birth of their children, have the option of applying for a part-time job as there are employers who want your skills and experience, even if it's only for half a day.
A job search on the internet will reveal that there are many part-time jobs on offer – of course you'll not get the same type of salary you were used to before with a full-time job, but it is a great option for a new mom who wants to spend more time with their little one. It is just a matter of knowing where to look, who to talk to, and how to approach it. Whether you are looking for part-time, full-time or something in between, you can follow our 5-step game plan in putting yourself back into the job market.
Step 1: Review your career aspirations
What do you want to do? Sit down with your partner or a friend and write down what your skills are and what you are good at. Create a mind map and re-visit it throughout the week to make sure you have covered everything. Research suitable job ads and see the skills that employers are looking for. If you need to improve your skills and boost your confidence, look at doing a short course. For a directory of Career coaches in South Africa. Importantly, work out the flexibility you need to manage work and family.
Step 2: Revamp and update your CV
The biggest mistake you can make in your CV (or résumé) is to refer to the time you have spent at home as being a 'stay-at-home mom'. Think about the unpaid activities you have been doing and turn these into 'work-speak'. For example, raising money for a charity involves communication, business development, and marketing skills. Tuck shop work involves money-handling, customer service, and the ability to work in a team. If you've been doing the bookkeeping for your family business, research what businesses will pay you to do their bookkeeping. Volunteer work is a wonderful way to build up your work experience, so make sure you include this in your CV as well. Your CV sells you so make sure you spend time on formatting, content, spelling and grammar.
Step 3: Submit a proposal to work flexibly or find a flexible job
Many companies offer flexible work hours, e. g. 6:00-15:00 or 7:00-16:00 or 8:00-17:00. Some employers are so progressive that they have flexible work practices – with flexi-hours, working from home and even shift work – but this practice is still in its infancy in South Africa and is extremely rare, so you'll have to do your research.
Don't be afraid to approach HR with this issue where you are currently employed. If you are job-hunting, raise it during your job interview – after all, it is something that will influence your decision to work there or not.
If you are going to return to your current employer after your maternity, ensure that you are communicating your desire to work flexibly before you go on maternity leave! Many employers, if they value your skills will try to accommodate you in this.
If you are actively searching for a new employer, be very clear about your requirements upfront. Whatever your reasons for requesting this type of flexibility, just make sure that they are legitimate. If you see an ideal job being advertised that is full-time, ask if they would consider a flexible or part-time working arrangement. The national skills shortage is providing an ideal environment for you to negotiate flexibility.
Step 4: Rely on the law of the land
As a woman in the workplace, you are protected by the 1997 Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the 1998 Employment Equity Act, banning gender-based discrimination and, among other things, ensuring fair access and equal treatment of women in the labour market.
Step 5: Know your job channels
Ensure that you register your name and other relevant information with a few job channels to ensure you have broad coverage. Set up job alerts and upload your profile so prospective employers can find you. (See the list below)
Another great channel is your family and social networks. Let them know what you are looking for. Great leads often come from people you know.
Consider setting yourself up as a freelancer or independent consultant/ contractor. With good contacts, there can be an abundance of jobs where employers can engage your services on a short to medium term. Many employers prefer this option as they only pay for your expertise and help on an “as-needs” basis, therefore they are often more likely to meet your flexible needs.
Here are some useful links to help you find the right job for you: