Find the perfect family friendly job
Am I about to make a really bad decision?(34 Posts)
I am a professional in a large commercial firm. I have been struggling massively since returning to work after DS's birth (he's now 4, I took 6 months maternity leave).
I work 4 days p.w. I inevitably work on my day off. There is a long hours culture and I struggle massively keeping on top of both my job and home. Clients and employers expect 24/7 availability. In addition there is a heavy focus on client entertainment - lunches, dinners, drinks, football etc - including overnight travel which impacts childcare and eats massively into my family time.
The culture is very laddish (colleagues are all male with either no kids or SAH wives), and I feel quite isolated. I see no promotion prospects for me without returning to FT work and shifting my priorities. I was told that I was on course for partnership before going on mat leave, but that a new interim employed senior role had been created as a necessary stepping stone to partnership. I was promoted to that senior role, but see no prospect of partnership and I am not even sure that I would want it, as the expectations and demands would be even higher.
I really wanted to make it work as there is a dearth of senior females in my profession, hence flogging away at it over the past 3.5 years, but I have not been coping well over the past 12 months (failed IVF, depression and anxiety, now on anti-depressants) and I have lost all enthusiasm and motivation for the job.
There are perks: I am on a reasonable salary and my manager is fairly flexible about me working from home 1-2 days a week and taking time for childcare emergencies. Every so often there will be a good day and I will feel motivated again, but these days are becoming few and far between and overall I feel miserable a work and constantly anxious about it when not in work.
I have looked for other roles but I am struggling to find the time or energy to properly work out what I want to do as I would need to change direction fairly significantly in order to avoid encountering similar difficulties in a similar role.
After discussion with DH, I have decided to hand my notice in now despite not having another job to go to. I am on a 6 month notice period so would have time to look for something and, worse case scenario, we could probably get by in the short term on DH"s salary alone whilst I continued looking if I hadn't found anything in 6 months -though it would be very tight.
So I intend to hand my notice in (at my appraisal which is not idea but hard to find time to meet him privately). My question is: am I being naive/entitled/mad in walking away from a reasonably well-paid flexible job just because I am unhappy? I have worked in the same firm for over 10 years so I have limited knowledge of what it is like to be back on the market.
Sorry for the ramble. If anyone has made it this far I would be very grateful for any thoughts or advice from you wise mumsnetters.
Are there other options you could consider with your employers before taking such a big step? For example, requesting a jobshare?
I am in such a similar situation. It's shit. Been with the firm 14 years. Work 4 days per week. Promotion not happening because I need more time in the office even though I always end up working on my two half days off.
For me at the moment I need the family time more - pick up twice a week from school and do all drop offs. I can't afford to quit with nothing else to go (3 month notice, not much buffer) and there's not much (nothing!) around that would give me the 4 days per week in the beginning. Oh and add in 0% pay rise across the board is really making we want to go.
I've got my appraisal today - can't wait!
So no real advice, sorry, but empathy. If you can take the hit financially and the market is active in your role I think I'd do it.
I was told that I was on course for partnership
You are good at your job. Just not this job.
Believe in yourself and go freelance / self-employed. It was the best thing I ever did workwise: I am still in the world of work but on my terms.
Resign but on friendly terms because you want them to (a) not enforce a restraint of trade and (b) put work your way.
Best of luck!
You sound so miserable and you've stuck at it unhappily for 3.5 years. Leave. Life is too short to be this unhappy.
Do you live in the area where there are in general good job opportunities?
I would first spend few hundred pounds on career coaching and get a professional firm to rewrite your CV to include all your transferable skills.
Only once you have done that hand in your notice.
You con have couple months adjusting yourself to new situation and then start looking for jobs.
Saving some money now would help you to feel in control.
Thanks for the quick responses, and encouragement, really appreciate it.
It was my plan to broach the issue by outlining my difficulties and asking what options we could explore, and to be fair I think my manager might be open to discussing a solution. However, my experience of the senior management is that they will give me a two finger salute and suggest if I don't like it then I can get on my bike. Jobshares unfortunately not an option - it's a very niche market.
Sky, sorry you're having a shit time. Hope your appraisal goes well and you feel better afterwards.
Anti that's a good idea about coaching. Any recommendations?
I handed in my notice from a high-paying role without a job to go to when DS was very small. I didn't find another job for a while. There were upsides and downsides.
-I think I might have had a breakdown if I'd carried on the way I was.
-I spent a lot of precious time with DS before I got my next job
-I learned to budget and live a very minimal lifestyle and am now much less scared of unemployment as a result
-I learned that DH and I are a great team in good times and bad
-Once I'd decided to make my sanity and family a priority it severely limited what jobs I was prepared to take. As a result I now earn half what I used to earn and I think the slip down the career ladder is permanent
-I had to change the story of myself - I'd defined myself as a strong woman who could do it all and blaze trails etc. It was a real challenge to my sense of self and identity to accept that I couldn't do it and that I needed a slower pace of life. I had to accept that motherhood had changed me on a really fundamental level and that things that used to be important to me were now much lower priority. I still admire those mothers who achieve extraordinary things in their career but I no longer aspire to be one of them. This was a 180 degree change in outlook and it was an uncomfortable process for me.
I wish you well whatever you decide. I remember how scarey it felt to me at that jumping off point.
I'm in a very similar position. I returned to full time work this year after maternity leave and am struggling. The business has changed beyond all recognition and I no longer have the skills to do my job properly. Every single piece of work I'm given terrifies me because I just don't know how to do it. I'm on a high salary and moving to part time would mean a 50% pay cut which DH is understandably reluctant for me to take. I don't know what to do for the best as I'm mindful that if I take such a huge step down the career ladder I may never get back up.
OP suggestion of coaching and CV building is an excellent one. Not sure what your business is but could you temp/join an agency if money got tight?
Unless you want to leave the profession permanently I wouldn't quit without something to go to. You are much more marketable in your job. Network network network and get round some decent agencies asap.
If you can't last long without a salary and are also clear that you need to "change direction fairly significantly", I would suggest getting a much clearer plan in place as to what that change of direction will look like and how you'll achieve it before you go ahead and resign.
I can only recommend V writing company I used, it enabled me to easily get interviews, but I was carrying within the same field as before my CV was rewrited
I would look at finances i.e (as ppl say) put aside every month the money you are going to lose netto (after nursety cost/travel/lunches/clothes) and see if you can as a family survive on one salary. If you can your situation is different from when if you can't.
I have no idea how easy it is nowadays to get p-t job in other areas than my so can't comment on that.
I think the more prep you do now the easier landing on the day when you are handing that notice in.
Are you a lawyer? Would working as a PSL be an option eg at PLC or Lexis? Or in another law firm?
I second the advice to find a new job before moving.
If you are a lawyer could you work in house? Seems to be a bit less pressured and not expected to be available 24/7 in my experience (I work closely with our in house legal team who ALL moved in house for a better work-life balance even though the salary is quite a lot less than they were earning).
Could you outsource the housework stuff (i.e. housework, ironing, gardening, admin) to relieve the pressure a bit while you work out what to do next?
I would look at jobs in public sector; local government, civil service or NHS. They seem to be far more flexible in their thinking and there are far more opportunities for part time. flexible and compressed working.
Or.... as someone has said further up see if you can live on one salary. If you can manage that and save your salary it will make life much much easier.
It'll be hard getting a public sector job as most have recruitment freezes at the moment
Well, the NHS and local councils are still advertising jobs around here.
I'd opt for happiness every time nowadays. Having a fat salary, all the benefits you could wish for etc is all very well, but it's meaningless if you have an impoverished experience both at work and home, and too stressed out to enjoy anything.
You do have the option, especially if in a large corporate environment to make your concerns official. They, and that includes HR, could see a risk on their horizon that if they don't support you, it could spiral into a discrimination situation, with you taking the view that you raised your concerns but they didn't support you. This isn't current reality but I'm trying to think how they might think.
Perhaps you could put in a formal request for them to support you in find an alternative role in the company for example, because you have had difficulty with work life balance. Put it in their terms.
Let's face it, if you are seriously contemplating handing in your notice what harm could it do? Also, do consider the value nowadays of your statutory employment rights (2 years service). By leaving, you are setting the clock back to zero.
daisychain01, you always come out with some great advice! Must admit, I do agree with prioritising happiness.
If you are sure you will get new employment quickly can you look now and set a target of another 3 months of staying there maybe ? It sounds like the place and life generally is kind of pushing you out of a job you are great at would be a shame to damage your career when clearly you have worked very hard
On the flip side I left a well paying job with amazing prospects years ago slightly different as I totally retrained and went into a different field but the bottom line was I was unhappy and my happiness mattered more to me !!
I think it'd be a mistake, professionally and earnings wise, to quit without another job to go to.
A lot of experiences on here sound like structural sexism.
Isn't there a saying that it is easier to get a job, in a job?
What about pension?
If your manager is good about flexibility is there any possibility of discussing this with them and seeing if there's a solution?
You could trial a solution (PP has suggested a job share. That could be good) and actively job hunt at the same time.
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