“After my business went into administration in the 2008 recession I quickly found myself a full time job. After a couple of years of throwing myself into my work (I was reasonably senior in one of the UK’s largest PR companies) I reached a point where I was starting to feel burned out. My wife, who had worked part-time since our children were born, wanted to go back to work full time, so we decided to swap roles. The first couple of years were very difficult.
I don’t think I spoke to a single recruiter (in-house or consultancy) that wasn’t in some way suspicious of my motivation for wanting to have a bit more balance in my life, to spend more time with my sons before they were grown up, to be the one primarily in charge of domestic affairs so my wife could concentrate on her career. It was very dispiriting and there were times when I was left feeling like a complete failure. There were no part-time openings for someone like me, I was repeatedly told. Employers would expect nothing less than complete availability.
I’ve also seen the other side of this scenario. When I ran my own business (which was a PR company) I needed to hire someone part-time and put an ad in a local publication. I was inundated with applications. All from women, all of them seeking a return to work after having children, all of them very highly qualified, many of them with impeccable career histories and experience. But having taken a career break to have kids they’d found themselves locked out of the industry. It really struck me that so much talent and capability was left untapped simply because employers were reluctant to offer more flexible openings.
These days I work part-time as a business journalist (from home) and a copywriter (one day a week in someone else’s office).”Collapse