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How to find a new flexible job

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How do you find a good flexible job which uses your experience and skills? For many, including parents and carers, flexible working is their number one priority. Most, however, want a job which reflects their skills rather than to be pushed into a career siding and left there. In the current climate, it can be hard to find any job, let alone a flexible one. Most organisations don't advertise flexible jobs, except part-time ones, so where do you start looking?
There are organisations which specialise in advertising family friendly/flexible jobs with a large range of employers so it is worth registering with them. However, up to 80% of jobs are not formally advertised so it is worth doing some research on firms which employ people with your skills, checking out their flexible working policy and asking around about them before sending in a speculative letter.
Use social networking to find out about any potential vacancies, even if it is only for short-term work or at more reduced hours than you would like. Once you get your foot in the door, you may be able to build on this. Ask friends, family, colleagues and ex-colleagues for any information on job openings, contact the organisation with your cv and ask if you can come in and talk to them/shadow someone working there. Even if nothing materialises, a face to face meeting will mean that you are remembered and you may be contacted in the future.
If you do spot a good job that is advertised as full time it may still be worth applying and asking whether the employer will consider some form of flexibility. Legally, the only people who have the right to request flexible working are parents and carers, but even they have to be in a job for six months before they can do so, but if the organisation really wants you, you will have more leeway.
The six million dollar question is when to bring up flexible working at interview. There are many different opinions on this and every job situation is different so there are no hard and fast rules. Feel your way, but don't make it the prime focus of your interview.
You could try asking general questions at the end of the interview about the organisation's flexible work policy. You should research this before you apply in any event and ask contacts for the inside view on whether the organisation really backs flexible working or just does so on paper.
If you are a parent or carer and you know that the organisation has a good record on flexible working you might consider taking the job full time and then applying for flexible work six months down the line. Once the organisation knows you and your work, there might be more chance of working more flexibly. Many organisations allow informal flexibility in any event, such as occasional homeworking.
The good news is that a growing number of employers are coming around to the positives of flexible working for both employers and employees.


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