I recently returned to my job from parenting leave and I am struggling to balance my family life and work. I currently have a busy role and I wish to move into one that can offer better work-life balance so that I can spend more time with my children.
I do however fear that being a working parent might be an obstacle or a disadvantage in my job search. Any thoughts?
Worried Working Parent
Dear Worried Working Parent,
It is not easy to combine your work and private life, especially when both are busy and demanding. We have seen an increasing number of companies becoming more understanding of the needs of working parents than previously, and more are promoting flexibility as a means of accommodating working parents, and even using flexible work arrangements to attract lawyers. Some companies are offering more suitable working environments for parents; such as shorter working hours, flex time, starting or finishing earlier, working from home, etc.
If you are asking: Is being a working parent a disadvantage over other candidates? No, not necessarily. However, it does depend on how flexible you can be.
It mostly comes down to your needs and expectations (re working hours etc.). Certainly not all companies do offer flexible work arrangements, and it will also depend on how flexible you can be with your workload and your working hours. Perhaps a company tells you during the interview process that you won’t need to work past 6 pm most days– which can be helpful in managing your family schedule. However, should you join the company, there may be occasions when you need to work a little later, perhaps just 30 min or so, and so flexibility on your part will also be required to ensure a smooth understanding and continued working relationship between you and your employer.
Even for those companies that don’t have established flexible work policies, or that are perhaps small and have not yet had to respond to a request for a flexible work arrangement, it doesn’t mean they won’t, or that they cannot accommodate you. Ask, either directly or via your recruiter, if the company can be flexible. Often a compromise can be reached that helps both you and your employer, e.g. if they allow you to leave at 5 pm every day, you in turn agree to complete your work later that evening at home.
Going into your search with an open and flexible attitude will increase the number of opportunities open to you. Of course, some companies may be more reluctant to consider candidates with families or young children, particularly if the role for which they are recruiting is a very busy or unpredictable one. However, for a lawyer looking for a little more balance, it is unlikely such a busy or unpredictable role will make that person happy, so, again, it is best to be not just open minded, but also openwith your potential employer and of course your recruiter.
To summarize, being a working parent should not be a disadvantage and should not prevent you from applying to any role, as long as your experience – and expectations – match the roles that you are applying for.
If you wish to find out more about roles that offer great work life balance, please feel free to reach out to us.