A coaching client of mine, the mother of a young child, recently asked me, “Where are the professional part-time jobs for experienced workers like me?” I think this is a good question. This client, we’ll call her Sandy, has graduate degrees in software engineering and business development along with more than ten years of work experience. After the birth of her child, she went back to work full-time, returning to a sixty-hour workweek. She worked hard in a job that didn’t play to her strengths, and after about a year she was passed over for a promotion she had been expecting. Sandy was frustrated and unhappy and decided to step out of her corporate job. She and her husband agreed that their young child needed more parenting time, she wanted more time with her child, and she felt there must be work options available where her talents and wisdom would be appreciated and where a more reasonable and flexible work schedule was available. Sandy wanted to work, but she found nothing that allowed her to use her skills and experience on a part-time basis. This is a common story for many, if not most, professional women who want to stay engaged with their professions, contribute to the family income, and be available as parents. I was heartened to read about a new and innovative job placement service that fits this bill, but is still small and in a start-up phase. In an article in the New York Times, Katherine Rosman writes about a job placement service called the Second Shift, started by two women, friends and mothers, who lamented the lack of options for the talented and experienced mothers in their children’s play groups. They formed a membership-based company whose purpose is to “pair mothers who left professional careers with companies looking to hire consultants and freelancers for individual projects.” While their company is focused only on women with experience in finance and marketing, it has placed forty-five women in project-based jobs, with three hundred women signed up as members, and five hundred more in the process of applying for membership. The Second Shift is a great example of what is possible and much needed. Some advantages of this model for organizations and for mothers are as follows:
- Companies can tap into an experienced pool of professional workers who are hard to locate.
- Companies can bring in experience and wisdom for short-term intensive projects and add diversity to their teams.
- Women can keep control of their schedules and make time for their families.
- Women can maintain active engagement with their professions so that their skills and resumes stay updated in preparation for a return to full-time work when their children are grown.
- Companies can reduce the long-term expense of benefits for permanent workers by hiring temporary professional workers, even though the hourly or project-based fees may seem high.