Whether you’re a new mom looking to re-enter the workforce or you just want a job that lets you work remotely, flexible careers can lead to better productivity and happiness — so why not break out of the traditional mold?
“If you’ve been away from the workforce for a while, it’s common to worry that diving back into the traditional 9 to 5 work style won’t quite work for you,” says Brie Reynolds, a career specialist with FlexJobs. “Flexible and remote jobs can be a great option, especially if you still have a lot of responsibilities to juggle outside of your professional career.”
Below are four tips to keep in mind as you launch your flexible career, plus nine resources that can help you along the way.
Consider a mentor
Before you begin your search, you may want to talk to other women who’ve successfully established flexible careers. Find out how they got their jobs and let them know you’re interested in a similar arrangement, says Meredith Bodgas, editor-in-chief of Working Mother magazine. “You can find these women by attending conferences and panels on flexible work,” Bodgas explained. You never know what leads they might pass your way.
Showcase your flexibility
If you’ve worked remotely before, make a note of that on your résumé and LinkedIn profile. It’s a good idea to highlight that you can use remote working tools such as Skype and GoToMeeting as well, Reynolds says. “Most of these tools offer free trials or levels, so start using them and you’ll be able to add them to your résumé.” This will make you a more appealing candidate for remote jobs.
Bodgas recommends applying for jobs that are up your alley even if they’re not advertised as having flexible hours or a remote option. Many companies allow alternative working arrangements but may not mention that in specific job postings. “Get a sense of what kinds of arrangements people with your role have at the company through blogs, the company’s website and their social media posts,” she says. “You can always express your interest in flexibility during an interview or once you’ve gotten an offer. It’s something you can often negotiate.”
A a few words of caution for flexible job seekers: Don’t pay anyone to conduct your search for a flexible job and don’t take on a job that doesn’t include an immediate paycheck. “When you’re searching different job boards or websites online, don’t use the phrases ‘work from home job’ or ‘work at home job’ because they’re most often used by scammers posting fake jobs,” says Reynolds.
Flexible work resources
- FlexJobs: If you’re looking for a job search website that easily identifies flexible opportunities, many people say FlexJobs is the gold standard. It costs about $50 a year, or you can try it for a month for about $15. Some jobs are posted publicly on the web, but the service does curate other exclusive listings. It has a wide range of job categories to choose from and opportunities are posted daily, as are blog posts, webinars and other news on flexible working.
- Working Mother Best Companies: The magazine regularly posts news about job opportunities and rankings of flex-friendly companies.
- Work Options: Want to convince an employer to let you work more flexibly? This website has sample proposals you can use to help negotiate a flexible or alternative schedule with an employer.
- Corps Team: This Georgia-based staffing firm specializes in flexible work. Allison O’Kelly, CEO & founder of the firm, told Forbes that it’s a good time to seek out flexible work because more companies than ever are more open to it.
- Hire My Mom: For about $100 a year, this Texas-based company posts jobs that are ideal for moms who want to earn income and enjoy a flexible schedule.
- Online courses: Want to give your skill set a makeover? There are tons of classes to take online that can help. Check out the Golden Grenade Brigade, Après Group, Lynda or ReBoot Accel for excellent options.
- Magnify your brand: Whether or not you know it, you’re a brand. Everything from the lipstick you wear to what you post on social media creates your brand, and that’s what employers are buying into, say Gwen Wunderlich and Dara Kaplan, founders of The Enternship, a workforce re-entry program for women over 40. That’s why you should create a website, print business cards and network as much as you can.
- Go high-tech: Be prepared to use communication and organization tools such as Slack, Basecamp or Trello — especially if you’re hoping to work remotely. These can be downloaded as mobile apps so you can always stay in touch with your co-workers when you’re on the go.