Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
There are many reasons why you might be exploring your flexible career options. Perhaps your neighbor works remotely and you envy their morning coffee on the porch as you head out for your daily commute.
Maybe your home life has changed, and you’re now juggling caregiving. Or, perhaps you realize that your life doesn’t have to be a choice between your career and your overall wellness.
Whatever the reason, if you’re here to discover the basics of a flexible job and how you can launch a search to find one that’s a perfect fit for you, we’ve got some tips to help you.
Rather than jump at any job presented as flexible, take the time to pinpoint precisely what you need in terms of flexibility, work-life balance, and career growth.
1. Understand What a Flexible Job Is
If you’ve been considering a new job, you might have seen the term “flexible” applied to various schedules. Therefore, you might be wondering what exactly a flexible job entails, and this is an essential question to understand the answer to.
Because “flexible” is an all-encompassing term that can mean different things to different people, some flexible jobs may be an excellent fit for you while others won’t be. In a nutshell, a flexible job is a working arrangement that will allow you to find a balance between your career and your personal life.
However, some key features can identify a position as a flexible option. These include jobs with schedules that are flexible or outside of typical business hours, the ability to work at least some of the time remotely, or freelancing.
2. Discover Your Perfect Flexible Work Style
Before starting your search to find a flexible job, it’s essential to determine the type of flex that will work best for you. Since you will want to incorporate flexibility into your search, knowing what you need before you start looking will save time and help you target your search. Consider the pros and cons of each of the following flexible work schedules.
- Part-time: Jobs that don’t require you to work full-time are inviting if you’re at the stage in your life where you aren’t seeking full-time employment. But beyond filling that obvious need, part-time roles also offer you the ability to gain some extra income or launch a new career while maintaining the security of your full-time position.
- Flexible schedule: For many remote workers, flexible schedules offer the ultimate freedom. Rather than having to work traditional office hours, you have more freedom to build your schedule around your personal commitments, which can mean anything from working early before you drop the kids off at school to working three long days and two shorter days. The options are nearly endless.
- Alternative schedule: Whether you’re balancing caregiving duties, two jobs, or are simply more productive outside of traditional office hours, an alternative schedule might be a dream come true for your career. The main difference between flexible and alternative schedules is that your employer generally sets specific hours for you to work with an alternative schedule, such as evening, night, and weekend shifts, for example.
- Freelance: While not specifically a schedule type, freelancing is entrepreneurship. As a freelancer, you’ll build a business offering services to clients and other businesses. While you can generally dictate your schedule, you’ll also need to be mindful that you are responsible for every aspect of the business, from marketing to taxes.
- Remote: Working remotely means that you get to skip the commute — at least some days. Whether you work from home full-time or a few days a week, you’ll have the freedom to set up your workspace, practice yoga at your desk, and bring your dog to work every day. For many, this is the ultimate dream job — working from home and regaining some time and freedom while still working for a company you believe in.
Don’t discount your ability to find a flexible job if one single form of flexibility doesn’t fit your needs. Although some jobs are focused on one type of flexibility, you can find jobs that offer more than one flexible arrangement. Common combinations we see frequently posted include freelance jobs with flexible schedules, remote jobs with flexible schedules, and remote, part-time jobs.
3. Get Flexible Job Search-Ready
Before making the leap into your flexible job search, make sure you prepare yourself. You’ll want to begin the same way you prepare for any job search.
Your first step is often revamping and overhauling your cover letter and resume to be easily tailored for every job application. You will also want to clean up all your social media pages and focus on consistent personal branding throughout all of your messaging.
It’s also a great idea to start prepping for future interviews by obtaining professional attire, setting up a home office if you are going remote, and gathering applicable recommendations.
Beyond the standard considerations, if you’re looking to move to your first flexible role, there are a few more ways to set yourself up for success. Employers are looking to see that you’re not simply following a trend but that you’ve mastered the skills needed for success in a flexible work arrangement.
For instance, round up any remote work experience you have, such as online courses you took or the few days you worked from home when you were ill.
Without any formal experience, you might consider freelancing or volunteering to add weight to your resume. You can also highlight that you’re a self-starter and don’t require micromanaging when crafting your resume bullet points.
4. Leverage Your Network
While networking is a massive part of finding any job, it’s often even more critical during a search for a flexible job when you usually don’t have the advantage of face-to-face interactions.
When employers can put more context to your name and personal brand, they’ll begin to associate you as a prospective solution to their needs.
Let your friends, family, and professional contacts know you are open to new opportunities. You never know when someone might have a lead for you. Additionally, consider joining professional organizations or groups related to your industry. This will help you meet new people and build valuable connections.
Social media is another excellent way to spread the news about your job search. Use hashtags on LinkedIn to find relevant postings, and ensure that you’re fully utilizing LinkedIn groups and the power of your profile. Follow companies on Twitter that you’re interested in.
You’ll discover that they are increasingly utilizing social media networks to announce openings and source applicants.
Finally, don’t forget the value of face-to-face networking, even if you’re seeking a flexible work opportunity. Attend industry events or meetups in your area. You never know who you will meet or what opportunities might arise.
5. Be Diligent About Avoiding Job Scams
While flexible work has many advantages, one of the greatest disadvantages is the number of scams that job seekers encounter. With many interactions happening remotely, it’s easier than ever for you to become a victim if you’re not diligent. One of the best ways to avoid a scam is to use a niche job board.
With an entire team dedicated to vetting job postings, you can feel confident applying to the listings you see there.
Beyond job boards, you can use best online practices by going directly to the company website to apply, rather than submitting any information through an ad or link that you come across.
You’ll be able to verify that the posting is legitimate and apply through a secure server instead of submitting your resume or application via email.
Validate the email address of any contact you receive — especially if it’s unexpected — and be mindful not to give out personal information before any job has been offered. If something doesn’t feel right or feels too good to be true, never allow yourself to be pressured into a hurried decision.
6. Don’t Neglect Smaller Companies
Larger companies get a lot of press coverage for their work perks. But often, smaller companies are just as generous, if not more, with their flexible work options. And although it’s not advertised, that doesn’t mean they’re not open to allowing you to work a more flexible option.
If you discover a company you’re passionate about because of their work or their company culture, consider asking if a flexible work arrangement would be an option (even if only on a trial basis).
7. Consider Your Current Employer
Tying in with the tip above, have you thoroughly explored whether or not your current employer would entertain flexible work options? Going back to the second step, if you’ve genuinely analyzed what type of flex you need, you might discover that you can maintain your job and meet your commitments with some simple tweaks.
Outline the benefits to your employer and ask for a meeting with your manager or HR. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. While this isn’t always an option, if you genuinely love your job, it’s worth having the conversation.
8. Explore a Complete Career Change
While there are a lot of flexible work options, not every career can support all of them. If you’ve pinpointed your ideal flex and determined that your current career won’t support it, it’s time to find your new direction.
Begin by listing transferable skills and then dive into career exploration. If you’re struggling to reframe your skills into values that would benefit a different industry, consider finding a career coach who can support you.
Incorporate Flex Into Your Search
When searching for a flexible job, use keywords specific to the type of flexibility you are looking for. Another great option is to search for jobs by focusing on companies that have a reputation for offering flexibility. Finding a flexible job is much like searching for a regular job. With the right tools, focused efforts, and a positive attitude, you can find and land a flexible job that is the perfect fit for you.
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