The best way to find any kind of job—flexible or otherwise—is through relentless networking among people you know and new connections you continually make via LinkedIn and other resources. There are some very viable short-cuts, however, that should be in your flexible job search toolbox.
SMALL BUSINESS SPECIALISTS: A frequent concern I hear from aspiring independent workers is how they should price their services. In addition to your own research, SCORE, a nonprofit advisory service supported by the Small Business Administration, can help you learn the business of being a freelancer or consultant. The organization has more than 300 local chapters offering free or inexpensive workshops that get you to clients faster and on more solid footing.
INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION JOB BOARDS: Many industry association job boards list competitive project work and freelance assignments. These organizations give you concentrated networking opportunities in your field as well—rather than dealing with more mass-market, industry-wide resources.
THE INSIDE SCOOP: One great short-cut is the Fairygodboss Work-Life Balance Guide, a crowd-sourced database giving women insider perspectives on employers who have part-time or telecommuting jobs, compressed workweeks, allowances for some work-from-home days, or flexible workday start and end times. Women who review their jobs on the Fairygodboss site rate their employer’s flexibility culture and policies, and half the employers are rated as somewhat or very flexible. Encouragingly, fewer than 10% of women consider their employers very inflexible.
BOUTIQUE RECRUITING FIRMS: The Gig Economy has spawned a growing number of boutique recruiting firms specifically focused on matching women to a wide range of family and life-friendly jobs. Representing a huge reserve of untapped talent, these firms attract very impressive women who opted out of the corporate rat race but have not yet found a more flexible alternative. Many top-tier companies of all sizes and in all industries use these firms as resources for challenging, lucrative short and long-term assignments.
Many of these recruiting firms have a national focus, working with clients either in one specialty area (like law or technology) or across a wide range of industries and job functions. It makes sense to register with these firms that could possibly have opportunities that fit your profile and your life—with the caveat that they generally do not have thousands of available jobs for the thousands of women who want flexwork. To help get the word out about these firms (that are wholly focused on women), I formed The FlexWork for Women Alliance under my 9 Lives for Women umbrella—you’ll find contact information, types of flexwork offered and geographic concentrations.
JOB BOARDS FOCUSED ON FLEXWORK: There are many job boards featuring freelance and other kinds of flexwork (Google the Forbes article “79 Websites to Get Freelance Jobs Fast” is a very comprehensive list), but FlexJobs is one that stands out in terms of quality and mission. This job board was started by Sara Sutton Fell, known as the “Queen of Remote Work”, who is widely known for her commitment to providing education and awareness about the viability and benefits of remote working and work flexibility for both employers and employees.
FlexJobs.com publishes an annual list of the top one hundred companies offering remote jobs—and these companies are largely on the East and West coasts with a good number in the Midwest as well. As you will read in Chapter Nine, flexibility is much more widespread among smaller employers, so companies like IBM, Verizon, and American Express are in the minority on the FlexJobs list. All the companies are vetted as great places to work, but not all are household names.
The cost to use the FlexJobs site is reasonable ($14.95 a month), but the biggest selling point of the site is the fact that every job is screened for legitimacy. That is the key problem with job boards in general—too often the jobs listed aren’t even truly available opportunities. Operating as “equal opportunity employers”, many large companies post jobs only so they can prove that the broader public was notified of openings. In reality, there are often many strong internal candidates and little intention to hire anyone from the outside.
If nothing else, looking through the FlexJobs lens, flexwork is more plentiful than most women would imagine: on one random day, their website touted 33,454 job postings at 4,711 companies. Even these numbers don’t make flexwork standard practice across all employers, but with strategic networking you can find many smaller companies that truly have the flexibility to be flexible.
This post is excerpted from Kathryn Sollmann’s book, Ambition Redefined: How to Create Flexible Work and Financial Security (Without Neglecting Your Family or Yourself), to be published by Nicholas Brealey (Hachette Business Group) in 2018.
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