The number one secret to getting the best job flexibility is to do research. You need to do a lot of it even before you apply for jobs. After all, what’s the point of spending hours targeting your resume and prepping for an interview, only to find out the company offers very little flexibility?
The first thing you need to research is yourself. What kind of flexibility do you need? For example, do you want to work part-time? Do you need to work flexible hours? If so, what does that look like? Do you want to work from home full-time or part-time? Do you prefer to work during normal business hours, or do you prefer working evenings and/or weekends?
It’s important to recognize that you might not get all the flexibility you want in a job right away. For example, some companies might want you to start by working on-site and after you prove yourself, you can work part-time or full-time from home.
Once you’ve figured out what type of flexibility you need, it’s time to start researching your targeted industries and companies. Career information databases like O’Net and the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide occupational information like projected growth, salary, job tasks and work environment.
Next, you can search right here on Fairygodboss and Glassdoor to read anonymous employee reviews and ask questions about companies of interest. When you’re asking questions or communicating on forums, be careful not to speak too freely about yourself. It’s a small world —you never know when you could be interacting with a recruiter or hiring manager.
Once you’ve done some preliminary research, you can start talking to people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has 740 million members with over 55 million registered companies. Chances are the company you’re scouting out has employees (either former or current) on LinkedIn with whom you can chat.
To find employees in your targeted company on LinkedIn, you can use the search function and type in company names of interest. If you narrow down by first and second-degree connections, you already either know the person or you have a connection in common. That can make it less intimidating and faster to connect.
Make sure to send a personalized rather than a generic connection request. You can write something like:
“Hello _____ (you can use your contact’s first name, as LinkedIn tends to be less formal)! I noticed from your profile that you work(ed) as a _______ at _______ company. I’d love to learn more about your background and how you got into the field. Let me know if you have a few minutes to chat via phone or Zoom at your convenience. Thanks so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon! Sincerely ________.”
Instead of coming out and asking about the company culture directly, it’s important to be gracious and make the initial message more about your contact than what you hope to gain from the conversation. Once you connect, you can ask more specific questions about the company culture and flexibility.
How to get the flexibility you need during the interview process.
At the end of the interview, ask “How does XYZ company measure success?” If the interviewer mentions that success is measured by the number of hours put in, this could indicate that working overtime is encouraged.
Another great interview question to ask about flexibility is, “What is the culture like here at ______ company?”
“What do you like about working here?” is another question that can shed light on the amount of flexibility offered. If the interviewer(s) are hesitant to speak up and be honest or if they give vague answers, this could indicate a lack of job satisfaction.
Whether you’re looking at reviews, connecting with someone about company culture or asking pertinent questions in your interview, finding and getting the flexibility you need at work has never been more important.
This article was written by an FGB contributor.
Lee Cristina Beaser is a career coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and founder of The Career Counter, where she empowers women to achieve happiness and fulfillment in their careers.