In a digital world, too many job seekers use the knee-jerk strategy of trolling “black hole” online job boards. Women, especially, often feel more comfortable avoiding the necessary networking and research—which is a real detriment when you’re a mother looking for less-advertised flexible jobs.
Make this year THE year you get out of your comfort zone and continually build—little by little—an ever-expanding network of influential professionals. Today networking does not mean asking busy strangers to join you for an awkward discussion over lunch or coffee—or attending large networking meetings where it’s hard to approach people for conversations.
Technology eases the networking process and here are four simple networking resolutions if you want a flexible job that blends work and life.
1. Leverage LinkedIn
For all professionals LinkedIn is the place to be—it’s essential to have a strong presence. Since many employers don’t advertise flexible jobs, networking is the key to finding companies that believe their employees should in fact have a life. LinkedIn helps you engage influential professionals outside of your own networks.
Don’t ever say you’ve exhausted all your networking connections…it’s virtually impossible within a professional community of 500 million LinkedIn users. Need some help getting started? Check out this list of the 31 best LinkedIn profile tips for job seekers from The Muse.
2. Identify your unique skill set.
An “I’ll do anything” attitude is never a plus for job seekers. Employers want to fill specific gaps on their teams. When they’re looking for part-time or freelance professionals, for example, they want to see an even narrower portfolio of skills.
Permanent full-time employees tend to be generalists who have job descriptions that morph in many directions. Flexible workers are often experts who can zero in with precision on projects or initiatives.
3. Get out of your own head.
When it comes to flexible work, it’s easy to make lots of unfounded assumptions. Like “most employers aren’t flexible,” “there’s no flexibility in my industry,” “I’ll have to take a pay cut if I work in a flexible way.” You can’t draw conclusions based on a couple of articles you’ve read or a conversation or two with professionals in your field. Even a career coach cannot give you all the answers.
The best approach is networking research—tapping your LinkedIn connections (see above) for more comprehensive “insider data” about specific industries, companies and flexible opportunities that will fit and fund your life.
4. Become a detective.
The reality is that flexibility goes up as company size goes down. Lots of talented professionals get fed up with the big company bureaucracy and flee to their own ventures. They have great training, connections and clients—and the ability to be human about blending work and life. Search LinkedIn for people who have worked for big companies in your area and you’re likely to find more than a few who have gone the entrepreneurial route.
More and more women are acknowledging that continually earning, saving and investing is a form of caregiving for our families. And that does not mean a more-than-full-time, chained-to-your-desk corporate job—we all have lots of options to fit work around life and be the present and involved parents we want to be.