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Does working part time impact on your progression at work?

by alex, added 8 months ago

A recent article in HR NEWS stated “Over three quarters of working mums [80%] feel stuck in the job they are in because they don’t think they will be able to find a new one with the same degree of flexibility they now have, while 57% say their career has not progressed since they have had children, according to the working mum’s annual survey”. 

As a new mum I made the decision to put my own career progression on hold until my little boy started school. After maternity leave I went back to work part time and if I’m honest, my focus was on achieving what I needed to do at work rather than progressing my career. In the early days, I was just happy to get through the week without any major dramas or sickness bugs! When I did decide to change employer it was important to me to find a company who would support my ambitions and allow me to work part time. I progressed my career by joining MET Marketing on a 3 day week in March this year, and one of the reasons I was attracted to the company was the business focus on “progressing people, progressing business”.  

Working part time in the recruitment industry does have its challenges but the MET business has been very supportive.  

When speaking to friends and family about part time work and progression, the general consensus is that they do have an impact on each other. Each industry sector is different and the direct effect on progression is hard to measure. A friend who works in the professional services industry has calculated that from taking 2 year’s out, it had set her back 5 years in terms of career progression. There’s also the reality that when you have so much going on outside of work, that it’s tricky to find the time or energy to focus on applying for jobs or taking on extra responsibility in your current role. 

I have spoken to many part time marketing professionals who have told me that they would love to take the next step in their career, although worry their options will be limited. At MET, the majority of the briefs we take from clients and the marketing roles that are advertised are for full time positions. Most employers will offer some degree of flexibility around hours or working from home, but not the part time hours. This level of flexibility is generally negotiated once you are more established in a business or within a senior role. In the marketing industry there is the option to work on a freelance consultancy basis which can fit in really well around childcare arrangements. 

Offering flexible/part time working option is a great retention tool for any business. Once you have found a company that will offer the right level of flexibility alongside the opportunity to process your career, it is not something you will give up easily.

The focus here has been on the world of the part time working parent but there are many other reasons that people choose or need to work part time. 

Advice on how to progress your career working part time hours 

· Decide what you want to achieve and what your priorities are

· Don’t be afraid to ask your current employer for what you want, as you might be surprised at the level of flexibility you are offered

· Be realistic in what you can achieve in the days that you work (do you want to be working on your days off to get everything done?)

· Make sure you have a good support network around you and can provide back up when needed 

· Look at shared parental leave options and if progression is a priority, then consider both parents working flexibility to minimise the impact on one individual

· How you feel about your career may change over time and once children reach school age you may feel ready to increase your hours or change working patterns

· Don’t apologise for being part time – you are not being paid for your days off!

· Be open and honest with future employers and recruitment agencies about the hours that you are looking to work

Sarah Hannam, Managing Consultant at MET Marketing

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