I first mentioned networking in this post, which is about why an employer might say Yes! to your request to work part-time. In the traditional 40(+) hours per week workforce, it can be difficult to find a part-time position. Here is a true story where networking paid off for a mother of three:
Once upon a time, there was a mom (Mom #1) who worked. Many of her neighbors were stay-at-home moms, as she had been for a few years, too, but now Mom #1 had a part-time job because she really enjoyed working in a professional capacity. She worked part-time so she could take her kids to school, be home with them after school, and drive them to their afterschool activities.
One day, she met a new neighbor, another mom with three kids – two in grade school and one in preschool. Mom #1 asked New-in-Town Mom if she worked outside of the home. Yes, she had before they’d moved to town, but on a part-time basis. New-in-Town Mom had a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. The two moms recognized they were on a similar career path and both felt strongly about at least one parent having the flexibility that part-time work offers a busy family.
Mom #1 excitedly asked New-in-Town Mom for her email address. “We’re hiring soon, and I can get a referral bonus!”
Mom #1 told her office manager about her new friend, and how she would be a good fit but would likely only want a part-time position because she had young kids and a husband with a demanding career.
When the time to hire arrived, Office Manager #1 posted the position as both full-time and part-time. Mom #1 was so excited that her Office Manager was supportive of working moms who strive for more work-life balance.
She told New-in-Town Mom, who applied immediately and went to the interview several days later. Soon, New-in-Town Mom had part-time Job Offer #1.
A few days later, while still pondering Job Offer #1, New-in-Town Mom told Mom #1 that she had attended a professional networking event in this new-to-her city. She’d met a very dynamic woman and the two hit it off immediately. The dynamic woman wanted New-in-Town Mom to work for her, and the job description sounded incredible!
There was a problem, though. Dynamic Woman’s boss didn’t prefer part-time employees. “I know about you part-timers,” Office Manager #2 reportedly said, “you’re never here when I need you.”
New-in-Town Mom had a dilemma. Dynamic Woman’s job sounded amazing! But she still had a preschooler and two grade-schoolers, and she didn’t want to work full-time. She wasn’t even sure she wanted to work at all until her youngest started kindergarten.
So she decided to accept Job Offer #1 and enjoy a part-time job. “Whee!!!” said Mom #1 to her husband, “I’ll get a $N,ICE referral bonus after she works 90 days!”
One day, New-in-Town Mom told Mom #1 that Dynamic Woman never gave up, and that Dynamic Woman had finally persuaded her boss, Office Manager #2, to extend Job Offer #2 with a part-time schedule.
New-in-Town Mom excitedly accepted Job Offer #2 and professionally undid her acceptance of Job Offer #1.
“I’m happy for you! Congratulations on scoring two part-time job offers when you really weren’t even trying!” Mom #1 told New-in-Town Mom. And she meant it.
Sure, there would be no referral bonus.
Sure, she wouldn’t get to work with her new friend and neighbor.
But Mom #1 was happy for New-in-Town Mom, who was starting a new job that met her criteria: exciting, challenging, rewarding, and PART-TIME.
The lessons of this networking story:
- Network! Make and maintain personal and professional connections, even when you aren’t actively job-seeking.
- Attend networking events sponsored by professional organizations in your industry. You never know who you’ll meet!
- Don’t settle for a full-time position if you really want a part-time schedule. This clearly establishes your personal boundary up front.
- Use your voice, whether or not you’re in a leadership capacity, to influence positive changes in your workplace.
- Advocate for others! If you know your company will be hiring, ask the hiring manager to post the position as full- and part-time. There is a lot of talent and brainpower currently serving as stay-at-home moms and dads, and a part-time position might offer a win-win solution to help them re-engage with their career.
- Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Sure, Mom #1 would have enjoyed the referral bonus, but the terms of earning it had not yet been fulfilled.
- Encourage your employer to implement a referral bonus program so existing employees can submit personal referrals and receive bonuses that cost less than a professional recruiter’s commission.
Tell me about a time when you helped someone get a new job. Or maybe you were the one helped? Share in the comments below!