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How to Stay in the Game Even Though you are not Working Full-time

Being a woman today is a major balancing act.

We are nurturers, caregivers, as well as thinkers, do-ers and bread-winners. We are also mothers, sisters, friends, wives, daughters, bosses, and employees. All these responsibilities mean that women play multi-faceted roles in their daily lives with tremendous conflicts. Unfortunately, many companies do not have policies in place to cater to the needs of working mothers and many well-educated women end up making hard choices about whether to be a stay-home mother or take on part-time work schedules during their children’s growing-up years.

Even in companies where flexible work arrangements are available, women suffer stigma and judgement by others and risk putting their career in jeopardy. If you are concerned about negative remarks, here are some tips for you to stay in the game even though you are not working full-time.

1. Produce high-quality work

A part-time or flexi-work arrangement can be a good opportunity to gain skills or experience while offering the flexibility for many mothers to tend to their child-rearing responsibilities. No matter how many hours you put in at the office or at home, one thing is clear- Consistently produce high quality work. Many people regard part-time work as a temporary solution before they return to a full-time job. However, part-time work can actually be a platform for employers to assess the suitability of individuals for permanent positions in their organization. Therefore, when you produce high quality work for any assignments, you demonstrate competence and good work ethics that may eventually open doors for you in the near future. Give it your all and results will show that you are a good hire.

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2. Don’t give the game away

Do not advertise your flexible working arrangement to people who do not need to know. It doesn’t add anything positive and you never know who might judge you negatively. Women taking on contract or part-time work are often viewed by others as doing work of lesser value to the company. This is certainly a wrong perception as more companies are embracing flexi-work arrangements to meet changing operational needs.  Rather than draw attention to the way you work, talk about the things you are doing for work when people asks about what you do.

3. Volunteer for high profile assignments

Whether you are doing a full-time or part-time job, taking on key projects will keep you noticed by the higher-ups in the company. Be in the know of what is happening in your company so that you can volunteer to take on work that make a positive impact on your company. But before taking on more tasks, ensure that you have completed your basic job responsibilities timely and work done matches your bosses’ expectations. Sometimes, you may also choose to pitch in for simple things such cold-calling or data-entry especially if there is a urgent need for empty positions to be filled. Make yourself an invaluable asset in the eyes of your employer and take pride in your work. When it comes to the time to hire new staff, the same higher-ups will remember you for your enthusiasm and professionalism.

4. Have a strategy for returning to work
This worked well for Daphne, a full-time career woman, who was not happy with the increased workload and the direction her job was going. After she had given birth to her first child, she decided to take the opportunity to leave her position and return to graduate school. Even though this meant that her husband was the sole breadwinner, she was able to spend time with her child during daytime, attend night classes and do assignments in the evenings. The time off from working a full-time job allowed her to get the necessary credentials to re-direct her career goals. She was able to land a good job role that leveraged on her new qualifications and return to work full-time. 

If you do decide to be a full-time mother, but plan to re-join the job market after some time, it is important to have a strategy for returning to the workforce. Take steps to stay current in your profession and industry, gain additional experience and upgrade your skills and knowledge. These steps will enable you to remain competitive in the job market and ease you back into the workforce smoothly.

5. Stay connected

Keep your skills alive through work with educational organisations, non-profit organisations and other types of volunteer work. Use any professional networks, alumni groups and business interest groups that are available to you. Make time to make new connections in the process. Janelle was on maternity leave from her job as a senior copy writer when she was introduced to the board member of a non-profit organization. Janelle offered to lend her expertise on a freelance basis and contributed to articles for the monthly magazine. The board member was impressed by the quality of her work and it so happened that he was also an executive producer of a media production company. The latter was looking for someone to head their new editorial team as they were launching a new lifestyle magazine. He subsequently offered her a job as editor of the new magazine. Janelle was delighted to join the organization as a full-fledge editor after her maternity leave ended. The moral of the story is that you have to learn to recognize the importance of projects that will broaden your skills or opportunities to take on challenges.

We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?

Let us know in the comments and please share this post with a friend/colleague if you enjoyed it!

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