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A Tale Of Two…

Part time working professional

Once upon a time, I was a full time working professional. As company accountant, I loved my job. I loved the business I worked for. My job really did define who I was. Whenever I met new people, conversation would always have the same starting point. “What’s your name?” and “what do you do for a living?” were always the openers.

Then my life changed about a bit. I had dependants – young and old. I was needed, me personally. This couldn’t be delegated or outsourced to anyone else. Perhaps it wasn’t that it couldn’t be, perhaps it was more that it wouldn’t be. Either way, I could no longer do it all.
And so I became a part time working professional.

Then began the search, the CV updating, the networking, the marketing of myself. It soon became very clear that there are really not many part time, senior, challenging, exciting jobs. In the finance world, I could easily find part time work in very junior positions. I would not be using my years of experience and skills, I would not be stretched, I would likely be very bored.

So why was it so hard? Shouldn’t I by treated the same as a full time worker? Shouldn’t I be judged on my CV, my skills and experience regardless? Shouldn’t I be treated in the manner with which I had been treated previously, I was after all the same person?

I could answer these questions myself quite easily – the answer was a resounding NO.

I’m not the same person. It’s that simple. I used to be able to put in 60 hour weeks quite easily. I used to be the dependable one that would always be there in a crisis. I’d always be the one to work early mornings and late nights when it was needed. I cannot do that now.
So in some ways, I’m not as good as I once was. That’s the harsh reality.

But in so many other ways – I am better.

I manage my time better. I might not be in the office full time, but trust me, I have a LOT on my to do list. Some of it work related, some of it not. But nonetheless, I get a lot done in my week. Being in the office part time puts an extra focus on getting things done. More gets done ‘today’ because I can’t guarantee having the time to dedicate to it tomorrow. I am better than I once was.

I can multi task better than I ever thought possible. Juggling a job and a family is pretty commonplace. There are many people out there who do it. But it will never appear on a CV as a skill. I can switch so quickly to the most urgent crisis (whether it’s a financing proposal or a desperate need to provide something for the school cake sale!) and I’ll switch back the second I can. I am better than I once was.

I’m a much more compassionate person these days, caring for a family does that to you! I have more empathy for others than I once had. I don’t think I realised how useful a skill this would be in the workplace. I am better than I once was.

I always said that I loved my job – I always believed that. But now that I do other stuff in between, I really love my job. Those few days of absence makes it all the better to get back to. That extra bit of happiness makes me extra productive. I am better than I once was.

I’m lucky to have the job I have. As I ‘ve said, those exciting, challenging, skills enhancing jobs are few and far between in the part time arena.

I know I’m incredibly fortunate, I know I work for an amazing business with an amazing team of people. I’m grateful and that gives me the motivation to go the extra mile. I am better than I once was.

So in some ways, I’m not what an employer wants – I’m not there 5 days a week. But I’m available 5 days a week (or 6 or 7). Today’s technology makes it even easier to be away from the office. Telephone calls and emails still happen on non-working days as sometimes, you just want to resolve something. Being part time doesn’t have to stop that.

I’m still a professional, I still work hard, I still develop my skills and learn new ones. I still love my job and care about the business I work for. I’m still flexible, I switch my working days here and there, I accommodate meetings to ease others’ diaries. I just cannot be flexible enough to give all my time.

I accept that some businesses will only want employees who are in the office every day – always there, on call for any emergency. But I hope there are still plenty of other businesses who realise that us part time workers can still add value.

Being part time is different. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse – just different.

Sarah Hawthorne ACMA
Financial Controller – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mom to Alice aged 6
Daughter to “Mum and Boss” aged 76
Wife to Simon aged 49 ¾

From the other side of the fence

Wagstaff Recruitment started as a bedroom business. As the owner I drove business through sales and cajoled my husband to do my monthly management accounts on a weekend. Hubby was great, he is an experienced Finance Director, but I became spoilt with his extensive knowledge and skills.

As the company grew, I took on offices and developed a team I knew I needed my own Finance Manager and here lay the problem. Due to hubby’s skill, my expectation of what a Finance Manager could do was unachievable on a part time basis, or so I was told (by external applicants). I wanted someone who could be part of our leadership team. Someone who had great management accounts skills. Someone who was confident to upwardly manage and challenge me. Basically I wanted a high level Finance Manager on a part time basis for an SME and they did not exist. Well they do!!

Then, through a fellow finance recruiter, I was introduced to Sarah! I gained an experienced, skilled professional who has the talent to utilise her skills. Sarah manages her time so well, delegating to our admin support team where needed and delivering a valuable, high quality finance service. I get great finance and management support and it is on a part time basis. The truth is hiring this talent is achievable it just may not be in the convectional way you expect. (I also don’t feel Sarah is part time as she is so flexible and there for me if I really do need her).

I would applaud any business to really consider part-time experienced workers. Finance, Marketing, Engineering, the list can go on! The experience and skill they bring, in my experience, is certainly added value.

Ruth Forster
Founding Director – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mum to Lexi (Our dog! No little people!)

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