Did you know that 42% of employed women work part-time?
Despite the latest research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation yesterday, when you work part-time, you still deserve the same career opportunities as full-time professionals.
Although more women than ever before are in work, there remains a glaring difference between rates of full-time and part-time employment for men and women: 42% of all employed women work part-time (that equates to 6.3 million women), compared to 13% of men (2.3 million).
As you’d expect, many of the women who work part-time are mothers, juggling work with caring for children or other adults. In some instances, part-time workers pay a heavy penalty for trying to balance those two roles in terms of pay rises, bonuses and promotion prospects.
Yet the reality is that often women who work part-time are more productive, more effective and more focused because they have less hours in their day or week. There is no time to be wasted.
Here then are 7 of my best tips that I share with my clients on how to survive (and thrive) as a part-time professional to help you avoid the part-time penalty.
1 – Ditch the guilt
I am willing to bet that there is not a mum who hasn’t experienced mummy guilt at least once. What is it about guilt and working? The two seem to go hand in hand. It seems they are almost inseparable. When I asked the working mums in The Confident Mother Facebook group to share what triggered the guilt for them, NONE of the mums felt guilt-free.
Many were torn by the need to balance ‘being a mum’ with ‘needing to work’; being fully present; feeling ‘good enough’.
This topic is so important to me that I devoted a whole chapter to ditching the guilt in my book.
What’s key to ditching the guilt is that you don’t need to feel guilty for feeling guilty! When we feel guilt, there is a reason. The reason might not feel logical, however when you’re exploring emotions and feelings, logic doesn’t always come into it. Isn’t that right?
The thing is, guilt does have a purpose. Guilt is to tell us that we are hurting someone or doing something wrong. It might not be true that we are hurting someone or doing something wrong, but it is our belief or our perception that we are doing something wrong.
Think of guilt as a catalyst and ask yourself, what am I doing or not doing that makes me feel guilty. Use the guilt to make a positive change.
2 – Don’t forget to network
You know I’m a huge fan of networking. (So much so that I created my own networking event, City Conversations).
When you work part-time, it is just as important, in fact more so, than if you work full-time. It’s simple to say “out of sight, out of mind” but realistically if you don’t show up, you will get forgotten. It’s not malice or ill-intent. Just that it’s so much easier to remember the people you “see” at events or meetings. In the same way, if you sometimes work from home, make an effort to show up in person from time to time. It’s those small conversations at the coffee machine that can have a big impact on who notices you and your achievements.
I accept that networking is difficult when you have to get home to collect your children from the childminder or let the Nanny go home. However if you are serious about your career and your career prospects, you need to get serious about networking too.
Make the time. Make alternative arrangements. Get strategic about which events you attend. You don’t have to stay until the bitter end of an event but don’t forget to network.
3 – Get better at saying no
Did you know that you don’t have to say ‘Yes’ to everything. You don’t have to say ‘Yes’ to joining the PTA. You don’t have to say ‘Yes’ to working overtime. You don’t have to say ‘Yes’ to taking your twins swimming twice a week.
Often we say ‘Yes’ to something because we assume it’s expected that we say ‘Yes’. For example, we make assumptions that if we don’t say ‘Yes’ to requests in the workplace, that we’ll be viewed as a slacker or a ‘part-time worker’.
The thing is … every time you say ‘Yes’ you are saying ‘No’ to something else.
When I interviewed former lawyer Caroline Flanagan a few months ago, I loved her advice to ‘Start with No‘.
Get better at saying NO to get more freedom to say YES to the things that you do want.
4 – Watch your language
Talking to a Success Manager at an international technology company, he told me that the one small thing that made a big difference in the way he was viewed at work, was his language.
He stopped using the word “just” or “only” to describe his availability. Instead of responding to meeting requests with “I only work part-time“, now he tells people “I am not available Wednesday because I work part-time“.
And in fact, if you’re trying to arrange a meeting, there’s no need to even mention your employment status. Simply state “I’m not available on Wednesday but I could do Tuesday instead”.
What about you? Notice what you notice about how your language affects the way that others might perceive you or your role.
5 – Big yourself up
As a part-time professional, you owe it to yourself and your career development to big yourself up. What do I mean when I say ‘big yourself up’? It’s easy. (Though I realise that you might find this hard …. at first).
Bigging yourself up is about acknowledging and embracing your skills, your knowledge, your experience and your achievements.
Make the most of opportunities to talk about what you are working on. Ask for recommendations and testimonials on LinkedIn. Keep a note of your achievements. Every month without fail, I look back and make a note of what I’ve achieved. This then gives me a full record when it comes to annual review or appraisal time. I can’t expect my manager to remember everything I have done.
Check out this article where I share more easy things you can do to big yourself up.
6 – Ask for help
Working mums seem to hate asking for help. And yet if somebody was to ask you for help, you’d probably be one of the first to respond. For goodness sake, ask for help. Don’t be shy or coy. And that doesn’t just mean asking friends or family, ask your partner or husband too.
Don’t assume that your partner knows what help or support you need. If you are coping, maybe it doesn’t occur to anybody to offer help.
What’s interesting to note is that in general, men and women, behave and communicate differently. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong, just different. In general women tend to assume that help will be offered. We expect men to read our minds. Whereas men, in general, tend to assume that if we want help, we will ask. But we don’t.
Ask for help. Be explicit about what help or support you want and need.
7 – Look after yourself
I have left the most important one until last. You absolutely have to look after no 1 first so that everything you do works for you. Don’t leave looking after yourself until last. Don’t be the only person in the family who doesn’t take ‘me’ time. Don’t sacrifice your wellness.
It’s important to look after your physical and mental health.
It’s often the easiest thing to drop but it’s also the most important.
What about you?
Now that I have shared my most valuable top tips on how to survive (and thrive) as a part-time professional, I’d love to hear about what’s worked for you. Leave a comment below.
p.s. if reading this makes you realise that you are struggling to survive let alone thrive as a part-time professional, let’s talk. Sometimes a simple conversation is all you need, and if you want more help than that, we can explore that too. Book your complimentary career clarity call here.