How to creatively craft a new flexible role

Are you struggling to work out how your role could be more flexible? Is there a flexible job out there for you? Could you return to your employer in a role that is more flexible? You might think you have few choices or are lost in the number of possibilities. Here’s a new way of looking at this.

Start by thinking afresh about the kind of role you would like to create for yourself if you were free to do so. What would you really create if you were entirely free?

Amanda*, formerly a Board director of a PR company, consulted me about her return to work after a 10 year career break during which she’d carried out some individual PR projects. She was uncertain as to what to do next: although she enjoyed some aspects of her previous role, there were others that didn’t interest her at all anymore. During our work together, Amanda identified the specific elements of her former role that still appealed (qualitative research and guiding guests around exhibitions and historic places) and set about researching how to pursue her career in each of these fields.

Rosie* had taken a six year break from a City law firm. While she loved working in the law and felt strong loyalty to her former employer, she knew that the demands of returning to the partnership track were not right for her. At the same time, Rosie knew that she had lots to offer her firm: she understood the pressures on trainee and newly qualified solicitors as well as the business needs of the organisation. She believed that she could help her firm by providing specific support to the lawyers as they set about building their own practices … and the HR Director agreed with her! The firm funded Rosie to gain a coaching qualification and she has continued to develop and evolve her internal career management role as the needs of the firm have changed.

Both of these are examples of women who have designed a role which stimulates them, builds on their skills and expertise as well as taking them in a new direction. While Amanda is crafting a role from elements of her former career, Rosie has been able to create a role which was new both for her and for her employer.

If you’d like to try this approach, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which elements of my previous roles did I most enjoy and excel at?
  • Can these elements exist as roles on their own or as key aspects of other roles?
  • Did I notice any gaps at a previous employer which I would like to fill?

Do you know of anyone else who has crafted their new role? We’d love to include their story here.

Author: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

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