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Job applications - when should I ask about a 4 day week?

(10 Posts)
FreiasBathtub Sat 14-Nov-15 08:59:52

A few months ago I returned to work after my first child, 3 days a week. For various reasons I really need to find a new job, but I'm not ready to go full time.

I was just offered an absolutely brilliant job but they aren't able to accommodate my wish to work 4 days a week. Which is fine, really disappointing but I understand. Now I'm wondering, as I continue my job hunt, whether I should be asking about the hours before I even apply, or whether I should do as I did for this application and not mention it until the interview. I feel like I'll have a better chance if they meet and are impressed with me...but that hasn't exactly worked so far!

Any advice or experiences would be great. I'm feeling pretty crushed at the moment - once again, realising how much my life has changed and how much harder everything is now I'm a mother. Not that I would change it for the world, but...

Husbanddoestheironing Sat 14-Nov-15 09:08:40

IME the best time to ask is never sad but definitely not at interview, as you just won't get offered it. They all spout all the required stuff in the advert about supporting family-friendly working etc and then just appoint someone who can do full time, even if (as I've been told twice now) you were the best candidate. And that was public sector which is often better at this stuff. I'm thinking now I will have to take a full time job, work it for a year or 2 and prove I can do it and then ask to drop to 4 days. The trouble is I need the parttime hours now more than I will in 2 years. Advertised pt hours are like rocking horse s@@t in my profession. Sorry that's not very encouraging.

Sallycinnamum Sat 14-Nov-15 09:22:55

From bitter experience, never ask prior or during the interview but when you've been offered the role.

You'll get loads of conflicting advice about it being best to be upfront before applying and it wil piss the interviewer off if you ask for reduced hours after being offered a role but you might as well kiss goodbye to even getting an interview if the job is full time and you enquire about part time hours before even applying.

I've interviewed a great deal over the past 10 years and if I get an exceptional candidate and they ask for part time hours after being offered the role I will always try and accommodate their request although I will say a four day week is much easier than a three day week.

But you have to be flexible so this might consist of offering to work a nine day fortnight, compressed hours or one day from home for example. Another option is to take the role and apply for flexible working after a few months but my advice would be to ensure this is is formally written down and agreed.

I am about to start a new job which was advertised as full time but I am currently negotiating flexible working, which will be discussed after my one month probation.

I do sympathise because I had a great working arrangement in my previous job but was made redundant last month and I absolutely don't want to work full time. However, good part time role are like gold dust so I've just got to suck it up for the meantime. It's much easier to go part time once you're in a role and proved yourself. Good luck!

Sallycinnamum Sat 14-Nov-15 09:30:42

I meant to say, there seems to be a definite move towards agile and flexible working because of the cost of renting office space, especially in London.

A few organisations I have worked with (mainly third sector) positively encourage working from home, which is great if you have to work full time. For me, this means I can still do the school run a couple of times a week and I can work and still have time to stick a wash on.

I think it's all about coming up with suggestions of how you think part time working will work practically.

Husbanddoestheironing Sat 14-Nov-15 09:32:26

Thanks sally that's useful to know for me too smile

FreiasBathtub Mon 16-Nov-15 09:26:22

Thanks sally and husband, that is very helpful, although also massively frustrating! Everything you say rings so true. I like the idea of coming up with workable solutions. It's just so annoying that, as you say husband, you know you are the best person for the job but still not good enough for them to be flexible with you. Argh.

Sallycinnamum Mon 16-Nov-15 11:30:42

It is incredibly frustrating I agree.

I've had countless sleepless nights worrying about this since I was made redundant.

I like working and I'm a bloody good employee but employers seem to be blind to flexible working. In many jobs it's simply not practical but my field of work is office based and frankly working one less day a week has no effect to my job or to my colleagues.

blueshoes Mon 16-Nov-15 12:18:12

I do it when I am offered but very tentatively by saying I am flexible. I say I would like to do 4 days a week eventually and would like to scope out the job first and prove myself as well before looking to move down to 4 days a week after about 6 months into the job. That way, the employer knows you are committed but you also don't put them off too much such that they suddenly the second best candidate is more attractive after all.

This only works if you are in effect be able to accommodate working ft for a bit.

My firm is currently recruiting for a role which they can accommodate flexibility but don't want to advertise that because they ideally want to attract people who are completely hungry for the role rather than ones who see as a compromise with their personal life. That said, we are currently negotiating flex with a star pt candidate smile.

FreiasBathtub Mon 16-Nov-15 17:10:59

I'm in exactly the same position re redundancy sally. I know I'm bloody good at my job and my current employers were more than happy for me to come back part time as they know I will get the necessary work done (and well). I can see why a hiring manager can't take the risk just on my word - but equally I can't take the risk that they'll do more than simply 'consider' flexible working after a certain amount of time.

blue I am really more the other way around - I'm happy to work towards full time but I am just not ready to start out five days a week. I'm interested that you see p/t as a compromise with personal life and not being completely hungry for the role. I would never have thought of it that way. I am definitely hungry to work - in fact, I am more driven now that I have a kid than I was before. But again, it's hard to convey that in a 45 minute interview without sounding like an Apprentice-y loon.

blueshoes Tue 17-Nov-15 11:07:36

Freias, just say it.

You think it is a great role and you will work really hard and thrive but just that your personal circumstances don't allow you to do it ft at the moment but your aim is to work towards that. Only raise it when they have made the offer. They might not be that surprised. Yes, they might refuse but once they have their heart set on you, your leverage is highest.

I have just been for an interview where I was like on X-factor in terms of my enthusiasm. I don't think I put them off (hopefully). On the contrary, they said it shone through.

All things being equal, the job will go to the one who wants it the most because the employer knows that this person will make it work.

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