Today, the Timewise Flexible Jobs Index is published – the first UK survey of flexible working opportunities. Here, Timewise CEO Karen Mattison explains why you need to care
The world of work is changing. With the introduction of recent legislation, 95 per cent of employers now say they offer some form of flexible working
What is the problem that they are facing?
The answer is simple. Their challenge is no longer about flexible working, it’s about flexible hiring.
• 14 millon Brits want flexible working. Bad luck
It’s about what happens to the careers of those who want some form of flexibility when they are looking for a new role in today’s recruitment market.
There are now 5.4 million people who work part time by choice, and a further 8.7 million who do not have flexibility and want it. That is a staggering 14.1 million people who now want flexibility in the workplace – either in hours or location.
That figure that is equivalent to nearly half the working population of the UK.
And contrary to popular belief, this does not just apply to women and mothers.
There is ‘no one reason’ for needing flexibility, and there is ‘no one gender’ which needs it either. There are now over one million men who are actively choosing to work part time, and this is refreshing.
However, our work over the years has highlighted that there is a fundamental problem in the recruitment market. Flexibility is seldom mentioned in jobs ads, and this has created a significant bottleneck in the market.
We know that employers consistently underestimate just how precious the benefit of flexibility is, so they rarely think to mention it in the recruitment process, alongside other benefits such as competitive salaries.
Indeed, the number of jobs advertised across the UK offering any form of flexibility is so scarce that flexible workers are facing a problem – not in getting a job, but in even finding anything to apply for.
• ‘If you asked my boss what hours I work? Hopefully he wouldn’t know’
They may be highly ambitious and skilled, but – more often than not – their career progression grinds to a halt as their skills become under-used.
Feeling like they ‘can’t move up’ or ‘move out’, they get stuck. They end up staying in their jobs too long or even leaving work completely in frustration, simply because they feel they can’t move up the career ladder AND keep their hard won day from home, or four-day-week.
That flexibility is more often than not, a deal breaker.
That’s why, at Timewise, we have now decided to turn our attention to a totally new aspect of flexible working…flexible hiring.
For the first time ever, we now know where the problem lies.
Today we released the first ever look at the UK’s vacancy market, the Timewise Flexible Jobs Index. It is the first national research of its kind, which ranks job roles and UK regions according to how easy it is to find a flexible job in them. And the results have been staggering.
We now know that if you are one of the 14.1 million people looking for some form of flexibility in your next role, there are just over 6 quality jobs in every 100 that you can apply for. That is 6.2 per cent of all openly advertised jobs on the market.
It’s now not so hard to see why millions of people continue to be locked out of opportunities to progress.
The big question is: why should businesses be prepared to offer flexible working to those they haven’t yet met?
The answer is – as it always is – for the right candidate, they would.
Nine out of ten hiring managers say that they would consider flexible working for the best person. Yet if they don’t mention this in the job ad, how would candidates even know to apply?
The reality is quite simple, people who choose to work flexibly, are no less talented or ambitious and do want to continue progressing up the career ladder. By simply adding the words ‘open to flexible working options’ to new job roles, employers will be pleasantly surprised as to how many skilled and diverse candidates they will attract.
It just involves mentioning the ‘F’ word.
How to ask for flexible working
The common question I get asked by candidates is when to speak up and mention the ‘F’ word during the hiring process.
Do it too early and you may be perceived as not being ambitious or not taking the role ‘seriously’. Leave it too late, and you risk annoying your future manager for not being open.
This dilemma is the impact for candidates of not having a transparent hiring market.
Here are my top tips on how to approach the topic of flexible working, when interviewing for a new job:
Do your research
When applying for a new role, if the advert isn’t clear about what flexibility – if any – is possible, it is a good idea to call and ask the HR Department before you apply. It is also worth asking whether they already have people working flexibly in that given role type and/or team.
If the answer is no, this is usually THE major tell-tale sign if flexibility will even be possible.
Know your worth
If you hold a senior position, have hard-to-find skills and top notch experience, you hold much stronger negotiating powers. The jobs market is turning, and employers are struggling to find suitable candidates for some roles. Capitalise on this.
Show you can make it work
Demonstrate how you make it work for your employer in your current role, without apologising for it.
‘My working pattern is currently a four-day week, and I consistently meet my sales targets. Would you be able to match this?’
Don’t lead on the flex issue
Avoid the mistake of sounding as if you’ve only applied because it’s a role with flexible working options. First and foremost, you have applied because you have the right skills, it’s a great role, and you want to work for this company. No one wants to hire someone who is ONLY applying because the job is the part time.
The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index will be revealed today from Google’s London headquarters, including a call for change backed by key industry figures, including Helena Morrissey CBE, founder of the 30% Club.
Source: The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/11660252/Flexible-working-Employers-need-to-get-on-board-with-the-F-word-fast.html