We met Rachel as an Executive Career Coaching candidate. From the beginning, it was evident that she would not be assuming a typical transition path. Rachel was clear that she was going to use the support of our program to engage her Career Coach to focus on very specific transition.
Rachel is a lawyer by training with 27 years’ experience in law firms – and she loves what she does. And although she also enjoys education, she was not prepared to give up her legal career to pursue a full-time education role. Instead, she decided she wanted to combine the two.
When Rachel saw a full-time education role at a university being advertised, she and a trusted colleague decided that they would unite and apply for the role as a job share arrangement.
Rachel and her colleague were not new to job sharing. For Rachel, twice before she was given a job share partner and both times it worked brilliantly. This time, Rachel already had her partner and a role opportunity, but they had to convince the employer that it could be done as a job share.
How did you engage your Consultant?
It was good to have someone to bounce ideas off, particularly as the role had not been advertised as a job-share role. It was really nice that my Consultant also met my job share partner and her advice to us both was constructive and helpful.
The Consultant gave us her feedback on our pitch and suggested putting in other elements we hadn’t initially considered. The best suggestion was that it would be more effective to pitch the job share upfront – and she was absolutely right!
Were there any challenges for your employer?
We definitely threw them a bit as they hadn’t encountered job sharing before. It took them a while to understand how it could work and what benefits it could bring.
We put in our application and when it came to the interview process, they didn’t know how to approach it –They looked for internal procedures, but didn’t find any. They ended up being creative and devising their own procedure, interviewing my partner first, then us together, and then me alone. They asked both of us the same questions – including “What if we only want to hire one of you?”, But all the way through we were clear that we came together as a job share – the simple fact was that neither of us were interested in doing the role solo. I think they could tell from the way we were able to answer their questions separately that we both shared the same views about how we should approach the role.
Initially, they were sceptical and it took a leap of faith. But we presented them with a compelling case, after all we were both highly experienced and perfectly suited to the role! They had real obstacles in their minds but we explained how each of these could be overcome and now they can see how successful it is.
What do your employers think about it now?
They weren’t sure at the very beginning – that’s to be expected, because they hadn’t encountered it before. To their credit, they decided to give it a go and I think we have demonstrated to them how it can work. Now they are completely on board and will definitely look at doing it again with other roles.
I work in a job-share arrangement because it allows me to work in two separate roles that I enjoy. Fortunately, I have always found employers open minded and supportive my decision to work this way and I have worked this way for the past 8 years. I’m careful not to let the different roles impinge on each other. For example, in eight years I have rarely ever asked to swap working days around – it gets too confusing for everyone and it’s critically important remain reliable in both workplaces. Basically, you have to have rules and you have to stick to them.
How do you make it work?
Because we both have other jobs we are very respectful of each other’s time. We copy each other in on everything so neither of us misses out. We jointly decide our work priorities in the job-share and either email or call to let the other one know where we are up to and what still needs to be done. We try to get together when we can, but it’s not essential.
What are the benefits of job sharing?
There are lots of roles that would benefit from being a job share. You get an additional skillset; you support each other and have someone to bounce ideas off. Plus, you have more energy and can give a lot more because you are fresher.
My partner and I have an overlapping skillset but our ways of thinking are slightly different. We appreciate each other’s talents and respect that we’ll have different views. This means that we can reach different conclusions that may not have been obvious to just one of us. I think it leads to more considered decision-making.
What advice do you have to others considering job share?
Don’t assume the answer is no. If it’s a full-time position, don’t wait for them to make it job share – get prepared and explain to them how it can be done. Be clear on the ground rules – how is it going to work for your employer and also for you.
Don’t be put off if you don’t have a partner and that you’ll be matched with someone you don’t know – give it a go. Be confident in the job and your own abilities – you and your partner have to be equal, but not the same.
And my final words – Just do it!