5 Job Search Tips For Single Parents (From A Single Parent)
Being a parent is one of the most amazing journeys. Out of all my achievements, my daughter is by far the best. I have been a single parent for almost eight years and have worked both full time and part time in both the private and public sectors. I’m not alone according to a leading single-parent organization, Gingerbread; there are approximately 2 million single parents in the UK and 66.5% of them are employed.
Working and raising a child alone isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, it can be very challenging managing your parental and work responsibilities. That said, there are millions of single parents in employment who are proving each and every day that it can be achieved.
Based on my experiences, I am going to give you a few valuable tips to help you secure the right job that will offer you the much desired work-life balance we all look for.
1. Working hours
During the early stages of the recruitment process, aim to confirm the working hours for each position as soon as possible as this you will allow you as much time as possible to sort out your childcare arrangements. Consideration should also be given as to how long the daily commute will be and what impact, if any, this may have on your childcare arrangements. If you can work full time, go for it! That’s my preference as I have a great childcare arrangement that works for me as well as good job satisfaction. Let’s not forget that the additional money earned in full-time employment will come in handy when making your summer holiday plans.
2. Flexible working/Job share
Flexible working is attainable and is often vital when you are a single parent in employment. Current U.K. legalization states that an employee must be working for at least 26 weeks to be eligible for flexible working although a lot of companies do offer flexible roles from the start as well as job shares. Job shares, as the title indicates, allow you to split the work and hours with another employee which could be particularly advantageous during periods of uncertainty with your childcare arrangements. Some of my colleagues work from home on a Friday which is great for their work life balance.
3. Public or private sector?
As previously mentioned, I have worked in the private sector and currently working in the public sector. A single parent can work in both, it does really depend on the company that you work for and their attitude and support towards flexible working arrangements. When researching your prospective employers, look out of benefits such as child care vouchers these will help to reduce your overall cost of childcare.
Healthcare and retail are two sectors known for providing good flexible working arrangements although the education sector trumps both of these as who doesn’t want six weeks off during the summer to spend with their children. Research which organizations have the benefits you desire and apply only to them, this will help to narrow your job search down to positions suitable for you and then compare and contrast each against the other.
4. Get networking
Many people find jobs through people they know so talk to other parents and teachers. If you are looking for a role within a school talking to your child’s teachers or a parent group is an excellent way to start getting yourself out. It as simple as starting off with a conversation about your background, skillset, and interests.
[Related: 6 Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid]
5. Honesty is the best policy
There was a time when I would never mention my child to an employer, if they didn’t ask I wouldn’t say. I didn’t want to be judged as a single mother or pitied in any way, I also didn’t want them to see my parental responsibilities as a hindrance. The reality is I achieved my degree and masters while having to raise my daughter alone she is in no way a hindrance and more of my inspiration.
When speaking to employers tell them about your child, if you have been out of work because you are taking care of your little humans, tell them. It is a part of who you are as a person so be honest about it. If the employer doesn’t like the fact that you are a parent, ask yourself, do you really want to work for them anyway?
Mina Dawute is a proud single mom based in the U.K. She currently works for the University College London Hospitals as a medical workforce officer. Prior to that she was a recruitment consultant and HR specialist in the retail industry.
Originally published at www.glassdoor.com on February 7, 2017.