Is your idea of family-friendly work too narrow?
Some people assume that if you want flexibility, you should choose a field where your work schedule matches your children’s school schedule, or a field with lots of other women who understand your priorities. It wasn’t so long ago that a woman’s career choices consisted of teacher or nurse. And those are still popular career choices today, partially because those fields can make it easier to choose your hours or cut back on them when family responsibilities are demanding.
But the workplace is changing. Employers are more willing to accommodate your needs than ever before. Today’s family-friendly jobs look different than what you might expect. Here are some characteristics of jobs that could make your work life more flexible.
They’re highly paid. Here’s some math for you. If you’re a cashier earning $9 per hour, how many hours will you have to work in order to make the $1,000 per month shortfall you’re dealing with right now? If you’re a lawyer earning $200 an hour, how many hours will get you the same amount of money? Less hours at work=more time at home. Here’s a list of the ten highest-paying jobs to get you started.
They’re highly skilled. Many employers say they have a difficult time
finding qualified workers to meet demand. If you have years of experience behind you and some highly developed skills, people will want to hire you. And if you’ve been working for a company for a few years, and you tell them you need to cut back your hours, they’ll want to keep you. They don’t want your position to be vacant for months while they search for your replacement. But if you’ve got a low-skill job, it doesn’t cost your employer much at all to find and train someone new.
They’re tech-heavy. Women are more likely than men to choose the so-called helping professions: health care, education, reception, dental assisting, etc. But many of them require your physical presence. You have to go to the hospital or the office or the classroom to get your work done. If you have a job that relies heavily on technology, it’s easier to work from home, and it’s easier to pick your own hours. You can still help people—how many non-profit organization need web developers? Plus you can cut down on commuting time. For example, coders earn a lot of money, and many of them work from home.
They’re in demand. Forecasters have already done the work. They can predict what jobs are most likely to grow over the next several years. So, if the market needs lots of people doing your job, and there aren’t enough people qualified to do it, employers will roll out every recruitment tool available. It isn’t a stretch to imagine that family-friendly schedules will be on the table.
They don’t necessarily require a W-2 form. Contract work is growing in popularity, both for workers and employers. Many people start their own businesses. Being your own boss is its own kind of stress, but you may want to consider creating your own venture, either as a freelancer or as a business, especially if you're not getting what you need from your employer.
Everyone gets flexibility. For flexibility to work well, it has to be part of the culture, not just an HR program, and not just a privilege reserved for higher management or new mothers. If managers sometimes work from home, if part-time workers get sick pay and parental leave, if hourly workers have some say over their work hours and if staff members take sabbaticals, those are good signs that your company (or prospective company) is committed to flexibility.
The leadership and workforce are diverse. If you're looking at a company that has women and minorities in leadership, you know it doesn’t require pin-striped suits and a bald spot in order to climb the ranks, and that’s great news. In other words, not every worker has to be the same. And, if women are in charge, they’re more likely to grant flexibility requests If you’re looking for a less-than-typical schedule, it helps to know your employer doesn’t expect all the employees to match a certain model.
Not every job will fit all of these criteria, and flexibility varies widely from company to company, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll find the perfect job. But if you’re willing to think outside of traditional career paths when you’re contemplating a flexible job, you’ll find more options than you’d ever considered before.