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When is it appropriate to ask about flexible working?

(12 Posts)
Tweedledee3Tweedledum Wed 22-Feb-17 18:01:52

I am currently on a flexible contract since returning from maternity leave, and due to child care issues this is pretty nonnegotiable.

I am desperate to apply for a job elsewhere. I am very unhappy in my current work environment. I have found a job with the correct hours, and the potential to offer the hours I currently need.

When is it appropriate to ask if any potential employers are willing to consider my shift pattern requests? Prior to sending an application, on my application, interview, or when (if) offered the post?

Tweedledee3Tweedledum Wed 22-Feb-17 18:02:47

*potential offer the working pattern I currently need

cheminotte Wed 22-Feb-17 18:05:16

Do you mean part time hours or flexibility on start and finish times? I would say don't ask until they offer you the job, as that's when you have the most bargaining power. But someone will say don't waste their time, if its a full time job and you only want to work 2 days a week, I'd agree. If you want to do 8-4 instead of 9-5 then no rush to bring this up.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Wed 22-Feb-17 18:06:17

I would wait until you are offered a post. IME whatever guff they put on an advert about flexible working/part-time etc they won't offer the job if you ask upfront. Once they have offered it is more difficult to say no (though they still might) You may even need to consider working full time for a while and then requesting flexible working. Good luck

Tweedledee3Tweedledum Wed 22-Feb-17 18:06:31

Thanks for responding.

It is a part time post. I have no problem with this. I need certain shifts, for instance, can only work evenings and weekends.

If you can only do evenings and weekends, I'd use that to 'sell' yourself as many people don't like those shifts.

Something like 'I currently work evenings and weekends and hope that it would also be helpful for your business to have a staff member who prefers these shifts' in the letter? That way you're not saying 'I will only work x y or z' at the start but you're introducing the idea of your preferred shifts.

5moreminutes Wed 22-Feb-17 18:14:01

Is it that you need certain shifts rather than flexibility to sometimes start/ leave early?

I'm in that position - I simply cannot do late shifts for child care reasons except at weekends. I'm happy to do early shifts which start at 6am and earlys or latest at the weekends, including Fridays if necessary as DH can leave at lunch time on a Friday, but I would decline a job offer if working lates was non negotiable Monday to Thursday and resign if an agreement not to rota me for those shifts was not honoured.

I set out my stall on that during the interview at an appropriate moment. There's no point going further if that request is non negotiable for you and they aren't prepared to negotiate, but at the same time no point having them bin your CV before they've met you. I got the job I interviewed for on that basis.

Interview IME.

contractor6 Wed 22-Feb-17 18:16:18

I'd be up front, recently happened to me when I realised it would be unworkable I withdrew, they came straight back with flexi working option.
Not great to waste time and get off on the wrong foot.

Tweedledee3Tweedledum Wed 22-Feb-17 18:41:14

Yes, 5moreminutes, that's the position I'm in.

Thank you for the advice so far, everyone.

PageStillNotFound404 Wed 22-Feb-17 19:07:01

Ask at interview/second interview stage depending on whether job is likely to require second interviews.

I'm involved in a lot of recruitment, usually as or with the manager of the vacancy, and one of the reasons we invite interviewees to ask any questions at the end is to give them an opportunity to ask if there is any flexibility with the advertised working pattern if that's important to them. We've got the right people in the room there and then to be able to answer honestly, depending on the role. Personally I would never "mark someone down" if they were otherwise the best candidate but had raised that they needed some adjustment, even if they'd asked regarding a role where such flexibility wasn't possible for business reasons. It's not for me to assume they still couldn't do it - they may have suddenly come up with an alternative solution themselves in the meantime. In that situation I would make a point of mentioning as part of the offer that it was as per the advertised terms, and then it's for the candidate to accept or decline as they see fit, while I'm realistic in half-expecting them to decline so know that I might have to go on to contact the second strongest candidate, and can be pleasantly delighted if they accept, having found a way round it.

It's much more frustrating to hear about any issues for the first time at the point of offer, because it's not always the line manager making the call or whose name goes on the offer letter, so to get questions at that point that need to be referred back to the relevant team manager can really slow the process up. We're always mindful that the longer it takes the preferred candidate to accept, the longer we have to keep everyone else dangling and there's a risk that if #1 eventually declines, #2 might have assumed they were unsuccessful because of the delay and accepted another offer in the meantime so we've lost them too.

Tweedledee3Tweedledum Wed 22-Feb-17 19:12:26

I really appreciate that advice, Page. Thank you. Very clear and I understand what you are saying completely.

PageStillNotFound404 Wed 22-Feb-17 19:21:46

You're welcome, and good luck with your application.

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