If you’re like most working parents today, you’re running like a madwoman on the family/job treadmill, scrambling to spend quality time with your kids while trying to give your employer the work performance they demand. Flex time or telecommuting from home has for a least a decade been an attractive and realistic option for many parents and their employers. Keep reading to learn more.
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Present All Your Relevant Assets
Don't be afraid to brag or to bring every asset you have to the table -- including your experience, performance record, reviews and specific accomplishments. Perhaps you found a new vendor that saved the company loads of headaches, hassles and money. Maybe you hired and trained an exceptional employee. Maybe you have a degree and background in a specialized field, are exceptionally good with people, sales, accounting or possess any number of critical skill sets. Remind your employer of your value, avoiding vague phrases like, "I'm very efficient at my job." Outline concrete examples, numbers and achievements.
Amelia Tyagi, author of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke [New York Books], believes mothers tend to undervalue their worth in the business marketplace. "Moms underestimate how many choices we have. We allow ourselves to feel trapped, forgetting that there are companies that value our talents."
What "package" do you bring to the table that another employee doesn't? No need to name slackers -- just focus on your plusses. Would leaving the company negatively impact the department? Approach the last point carefully, pointing out where gaps in productivity would occur should you be forced to leave because you couldn't negotiate mutually beneficial terms.
Women tend to be so-so negotiators on their own job behalf. Don't down play your value. If you have the skills and expertise present them all, then when you negotiate schedules and compensation, your value is actually and perceptually, amplified.
Financial expert Suze Orman writes in her book, Money Matters: The Money Talk, "Many of us definitely seem to have gotten the wrong chromosomal mix when it comes to negotiating salaries and raises. Time for some assertiveness training. If you're negotiating a salary for a new job, don't wait for the offer to form your strategy. Go out and research what the going rate is for your field and for someone with your experience." She adds that websites like www.salary.com make it easy to get good salary information.
Leverage Your Volunteering
What if you've been out of the workforce, at home with the kids, and want to re-enter? All experience counts on the bargaining table, paid or unpaid. Volunteer work very often broadens your existing skills or adds new ones. Don't discount the time you ran the PTA, organized events at your daughter's preschool, ran a local food drive or charity or worked with the Y. As long as the volunteer work or some aspect of it ties into your profession, you can add these skill sets and experiences to your resume.
You might describe, for example, how you increased donations by 10%, managed a group of volunteers successfully, created, planned and implemented the first annual town art festival, or created the very first accounting system to track revenue and expenses. Ask organizations and other co-volunteers for letters of recommendation, particularly from people or charitable organizations that are influential in your community.
Today's job market can be brutal, so it might seem like the worst time to ask your employer for a flexible schedule. Still, however, companies are looking for the cream to rise to the top, to create new efficiencies and to streamline jobs that cost them time and money.
If you want to negotiate for a flexible job schedule with your employer, be bold, be creative, be organized, be enthusiastic and be polite yet confident. Bring a proposal to the table that creates a mutually beneficial plan, don't undervalue your worth, be very specific in your negotiations, leaving room for flexibility, and you're more likely to walk away with a win-win job schedule.
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