One question I’m often asked is whether it is really possible to work in a senior role in anything other than a full-time capacity. It’s definitely the case that increasing number of both men and women are negotiating part-time roles in more senior jobs (see Timewise’s Power Part Time List for some great examples), however it remains very difficult to be hired on this basis.
Job-share is an interesting alternative, which can give the organisation the full-time coverage they often want for a senior role, while allowing you and your job-share partner to benefit from a part-time working model.
Can job-share work in a senior role?
Much as I love the concept of job-sharing, I haven’t come across many case studies of job-sharing at a top leadership level, so I was very encouraged this week to read a Womanthology interview with Mary Starks, the Director of Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Why Job Sharing is a Two-Brainer. Mary started her career as an economist and has worked part-time since 2005, joining the FCA as a job-share in 2013. She is enthusiastic about the benefits both to the organisation and the individual if you can make it work:
“if an organisation can get the right job-share partnership in place, it gets two brains, two sets of accumulated experience, and the more productive halves of two people’s weeks for the price of one. It’s also a very enjoyable way to work, particularly as a senior leader – you share the highs and the lows and avoid the “loneliness of leadership”.
Job-sharing and returner programmes
Mary acknowledges the challenge of finding “the right combination of people at the right time”. It strikes me that a returner programme cohort or a return to work support group could provide the ideal opportunity to meet another high-calibre professional with similar and complementary skills, at that precise moment when you are both looking for a permanent role on a part-time basis. It hasn’t happened yet, so far as I know but, as the market develops, I hope to see job-shares as one of the successful outcomes of professional return-to-work programmes.
Note: If you’re inspired by reading about the culture at the FCA, and have a background in commercial/regulatory finance or accounting, look at this supported hiring role where the FCA are welcoming applications from career break returners and part-time work is available: FCA Finance Specialist
Update 2/2/17: Just after I wrote this blog Timewise published their latest Power Part-Time list which featured 9 job-shares – 2 in the private sector at The Guardian and Lloyds Banking Group and 7 in the public sector at Age UK, the Green Party, the Home Office, Croydon council, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish government. See more here.
Posted by Julianne