Tips for finding flexible work

Every week I search the internet looking for flexible jobs to post out to our community to supplement the roles I have coming through. I’ve been doing it for over three years now.

I have gotten much better at key word searches however, I have not seen a lot change in terms or what is listed or where it is listed. It is still slim pickings with advertised roles and they are often administrative in nature.

Last year we did a live stream with one of our coaches Mary Legakis Engel on how to find flexible work and I wanted to build on that by sharing some of the insights I have gained from industry and from members over the years since.

Ask for it.

This still remains my number one recommendation for finding flexible work. If you are currently employed, you have the credibility, experience and positioning to negotiate. They may say no, but they are more likely to say yes, especially if you have used our Negotiating Flexibility Workbook to build your case. Advice from employers has consistently been that women should ask, instead of making assumptions and leaving. Start here.

As with any role, be aware of scope creep, of doing a full-time job for part-time pay. Set your boundaries and get comfortable negotiating priorities with your Manager and / or team.

Create your own.

As with many things in life, the most desired outcome will take the most amount of work. Second to asking your current employer and first if you are re-entering the workforce after a break, this will be your best option for finding a flexible job that fits your career and life ambitions.

On our live stream Mary broke it down into four steps, tap your network, be of service, listen for cues and propose a solution.

I wanted to add, “company and industry targeting” to her list of steps. In your own mind, be clear on what you want to do and where you want to work. Target specific companies whose culture and / or industry are aligned with your values… and then tap your network, be of service, listen for cues and propose a solution. Here is how you can get started.

  1. Know what you want. Do you want to be a contractor, own your own business or to work for someone else? Do you want full-time responsibilities working from home or perhaps part-time in an office around the corner? Big company, small company or start up? Knowing what you want will help you refine your target and save you a lot of time in the process.
  2. Do your research to identify companies (or industries) with cultures that are aligned with your values. Who do you want to work for and where can you get the flexibility that you want?
  3. Understand the skills your target companies are seeking. Look at currently advertised positions – is it digital literacy (easy enough to gain through a course at Brainstation), ambition (will they appreciate you taking the initiative and proposing solutions) or a passion for continuous learning (can you roll with the changes)? Identify any gaps you have for your ideal role and set about filling them. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or mean going back to school. You can volunteer on a project basis or with your friend’s new business, take an online course through the public library or lead the PTA’s annual fundraising event. Think of this activity as not only building your skills and contributing to your resume but a low risk method to testing or “trying on” different roles.
  4. Identify key influencers and decision makers at your target company or within your target industry. Who is it that makes things happen? This can be done through following public social media accounts (twitter, LinkedIn etc) and by talking to people in your network and at events (remember to be of service).

Your networking doesn’t have to happen downtown Toronto or with big corporations – if you are targeting start-ups in Milton or Collingwood, the same applies. Attend your local Chamber events, or professional women’s networking events. The principles remain the same.

This leads us in nicely into Mary’s next steps LISTEN FOR CUES. The key is to listen for an opportunity on which you can build on. As your contact describes their issue or challenge dig a bit deeper, pose questions so that you can really understand what it is that they need to solve this problem.

Now you are well placed to PROPOSE A SOLUTION, to help your contact build a case for hiring you because they need you! You have control of what that relationship looks like. When and how you work.

You may get lucky swinging blindly but a targeted and specific approach is what seems to be working best for the women in this group based on their feedback.

Notes from the field on targeting:

In my experience small- mid sized companies tend to offer more flexibility. Often they cannot compete with their larger competitors on salary so they create environments that attract talent through other benefits.

Starts ups often offer the most flexibility. The roles tend to be more administrative in nature and lower paying but I often think there can be great opportunities found here, especially if you have been out of the workforce and want to start smaller.

I have seen several part-time roles come through tellent with female-led and values based companies. If you can connect to a product and founder, opportunity to will naturally follow as the company grows. As the company grows someone will need to champion the brand and lead the marketing efforts, someone will also need to lead operations and / or possibly apply for VC funding. You get an incredibly unique opportunity to create a role from the ground up with the founder based on your own passions and skills.

Technology. You don’t have to do IT to work in the IT sector. Digital companies are often known for having flexible work environments and they need operations that go above and beyond coding (HR, marketing, accounting). Having a basic level of digital literacy and a passion for continuous learning will help when targeting this industry.

Education – online or academic. Universities or Colleges look to hire part-time academic staff throughout term time. Often you don’t need a teaching background just work experience.

The majority of Remote jobs that come across my desk are in the form of virtual assistant, bookkeeping and accounting, editing and copywriting and content or social media management.

Search for advertised roles.

These roles are thought out and pre-defined by HR departments and there aren’t many of them. Most part-time roles go before a job description has even been developed through an employer’s personal network. We at tellent, have been building our network to get those roles before they get posted publicly too!

Notes from the field on searching

Beyond searching for “part-time”, I use key words to narrow down my search for flexible roles. The key words that have yielded the best results are often ones that describe the culture I am targeting. For example flexible hours or flexible work options, reduced hours, work from home, remote or virtual.

Facebook has a job search now, as does google. They are not great. However, if you search for your key words or hashtags on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, you will find postings. It is tricky to refine your search here but sometimes you’ll hit gem!

On job sites…

Charity Village – you can find a number of part-time or volunteer projects on here.

Indeed – use your key words and salary range to filter.

LinkedIn – use hashtags as well as the advanced job search tool. You can filter out part-time roles now.

FlexJobs (USA) – primarily US based. The majority of roles are US based but they do have some Canadian roles that are tech focussed. Unless you are looking for a technology role, I’m not sure it is work the $30/month.

Freelance sites like Workhoppers and Upwork– I personally find that there are a lot of non-verified roles on these sites and haven’t found any that I really like. If anyone has any feedback or other sites of this nature I would love to hear it.

Join our facebook group and share your wins and tales from your search with our group of like minded women.