Applying for a job - When's the right time to ask for flexible working?

One of the things raised most when we talk to candidates about their experience in the jobs market, is when to raise the issue of flexible working. For example, we recently conducted research into HR and Marketing Manager roles with a salary of £40,000+ in Bristol and less than 1% were advertised with flexibility. Often candidates are forced to apply for full time roles and ask for flexibility during the process.

"When should I mention I have a family and want flexible working?"

"I feel like I have to pretend that I don't have kids when I'm interviewed"

These are some of the things candidates have told us, our advice is that if you feel like you have to pretend you don't have kids or need to lie about them and your need for flexibility in your life when you are being interviewed, then you are probably applying to work at the wrong company!

29 January 2018

Look again, there are companies with great culture who will let you adopt some form of flexible working if you are the right candidate! Let's be honest 80+ percent of the working population have kids, therefore it's likely your interviewer has them, or their immediate co workers or team do and they have some experience of how hard it is to balance it all.

Take a positive attitude into the interview, therefore if you feel you need to bring your kids into it or your need for flexibility you can consider the following statements;

I really want this role and I my experience with X, Y and Z shows I have the right experience and have a lot to bring to the role, I'd love the opportunity to work here. I'm a working Mum/Dad and when I work I am really productive. I focus on the tasks in hand and I get the work done efficiently, which allows me to leave on time and get the right balance and work and family life, so that I can come back to work refreshed and ready to get stuck in.

If you have applied for a full time role but actually want to ask for flexibility as part of the process, this is only going to work if you can offer at least 3 full days to them, it would be great if you can introduce the idea of a job share, perhaps with other candidates they may have seen or someone they have internally. If you are offering them 4 days or 5 school days, or one day from home then they are more likely to consider it.

Candidates often ask us when to raise the question. This is hard to answer and you need to go with your gut, I wouldn't raise it to the recruiter, they may not have even asked the employer if they'd consider flexible working applicants. Ideally you should ask the interviewer face to face either at the end of the first or second interview.

Asking for flexible working? You want to be in a position where you have built a connection, you are in the final shortlist, you've shown them you are the perfect for for the role and the working pattern you are doing is less important to them than getting you on board!

Here's a few more statements that you could throw in that may help you negotiate;

  • I can see you have a great culture here and really support your staff, I'd love to be part of your organisation for the long term and I have loads to give you in terms of my experience. Right now, in order to get the right balance for my family, I'd really like to work 3 or 4 days a week, I'd love to talk to you about how we could make that work in the wider team, for example do you have other people working flexibly that I could job share with.

  • I'm sure you have seen all the research about the world of work changing and people needing more flexibility and still being really productive. I'd love to talk to you about what flexible working you offer, as working ffom home some of the time would really help me support my family and give me the time to focus on work, so that I have the time to collaborate better with the team when I'm in the office.

Top Tips

  • Be clear on what your are offering them in terms of your skills and fit for the role.

  • Ask when it feels right, face to face in the interview, be positive about it and imply it's not forever, it's what works for you and your family right now.

  • Provide them with evidence (but don't ram it down their throat!) flexible workers are happier, healthier, more productive and great for culture, you could find relevant case studies in your field to share with them (get Googling!)

  • Give them time to think about it, offer to help them come up with solutions or talk them through how it worked in previous organisations where you worked flexibly.

  • Let them know how flexible you are - would you consider a trial, a longer probation, a short term contract, could you start with 4 days to get up to speed on their systems/products then reduce to 3 once you are fully efficient

If it works, use yourself as a case study, be a trailblazer, talk about it to ensure that others that ask after you get the same opportunities and other hiring managers consider advertising roles with flexibility.

We'd love you to register with us so that we can get in touch about relevant roles, we offer all candidates who register a free one to one phone CV review and career consultation session with us.

Flexology offer Recruitment and Consulting services in Bristol and are the experts in Flexible Working in the South West.