Parenting & Career Balance | by Allyson Reedy

FlexJobs, Parenting & Career Balance

Posted on Thu, Jun 6, 2013

Colorado company helps mothers searching for a telecommuting, part-time, freelance, or flextime job better, easier, faster, and safer.

When Sara Sutton Fell was seven months pregnant, recently laid off and looking for work, she had a hard time finding the type of job she desired. Since she was starting a family, she wanted a flexible telecommuting job that would allow her to pursue her professional passions at home while raising her child.

Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and Founder of Flexjobs

Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and Founder of Flexjobs
Photo by: Jamie Kripke

“I did freelance work for a time,” Sutton Fell says, “but my job search for flexible work was frustrating, and I was amazed at the overwhelming number of scams in the work-at-home niche.”

This experience inspired her to start FlexJobs, a career website that helps job seekers find employment offering the kind of work-life balance they’re looking for. The site specializes in uncovering professional, legitimate jobs that offer some kind of flexibility – whether it’s telecommuting, part-time, freelance or flextime. FlexJobs currently has 14,000 job postings on the site – all of which have been vetted for legitimacy by a team of trained researchers (read: you won’t find any Nigerian wire transfer scams on the site).

Flexibility and the ability to spend more time with her daughter was what Brooke Trexler was after. “After my daughter was born I went back to work as a teacher, but I missed being around her,” Trexler says. “But being a full-time stay-at-home mom didn’t fit my personality or budget.”

Trexler quit her teaching job but needed to fill the income gap left behind. She’d always had a talent and passion for photography, and eventually she got the confidence to change careers. “I learned to do everything in Photoshop with one hand while my daughter slept on my other arm. I really feel like I have the best of both worlds – time with my daughter and time spent doing the work I’ve always loved,” Trexler says.

Looking for a little more flexibility in your life? We asked Sutton Fell how parents can find flexible work opportunities, how to dive back into the professional world if it’s been a while and how to spot a scam.

Health & Wellness: Most moms I know want to find work from home opportunities. Any pointers?

Sutton Fell: Think about your previous work experience, as well as the types of “dream jobs” you’ve always wondered about, and do your research. Make sure you get back up to speed in your former industry, or find out what it takes to break into a new one. If you jump into the job search without knowing what you’re really looking for, you’ll never find it.

Health & Wellness: Do you have any advice for balancing working from home with parenting?

Sutton Fell: Do not think that by working from home, you don’t need childcare. Trying to work from home and parent your children at the same time makes for a very bad combination. Neither your work nor your kids are getting your best efforts or attention, so don’t try to split your time. Childcare is a must so that you can be the best parent AND professional possible.

Health & Wellness: What guidance do you have for someone who may be getting back into the working world after taking a long parenting detour?

Sutton Fell: Here are my favorite 3 tips:

1. Take time to reconnect with your professional persona, so that you’re a “person returning to work” instead of a “parent returning to work.” It can be difficult to locate and dust off the “professional-you”, when the “parent-you” has been in charge for so long. Take some time to return to your professional self.

2. Be honest about why you’re returning to work and what you want to get from your return. Money? Stimulation? Career accomplishments? Your motivations will guide your job search, so it’s incredibly important to know them ahead of time. Along the same lines, think about the types of job arrangements (telecommuting, part-time jobs, full-time jobs) that would be ideal for you given your dual role as parent and professional.

3. Talk regularly with other parents who have gone back to work about their experiences and challenges. There is safety and support in numbers, and speaking to people who have been where you’re about to go will be extremely helpful in plotting your own return to the working world.

Health & Wellness: There are so many scams out there. What are some warning signs that a job isn’t the real deal?

Sutton Fell: It’s estimated that there is only one REAL job listing in the work-from-home job niche for every 60-70 scam jobs, so this is extremely important. Here are some questions to ask when trying to figure out if a job is a scam:

– Is the hiring company’s name listed in the job listing?

– Is the email where you send your application tied to the company’s domain name, or is it a generic email address?

– Does the job listing include a professional job description and skill requirements, or is it more marketing-oriented and with lots of !!! and written in ALL CAPS?

– Does the company ask you to provide your social security number, driver’s license number, credit card number or bank information?

– Does the job sound like any of the following common work at home scams: unsolicited contact, wire transfer, stuffing envelopes, data entry, assembly work, multi-level marketing or pyramid scheme, shipping manager or rebate processor?

Health & Wellness: Why are flexible jobs especially important to parents?

Sutton Fell: All parents, not just working moms, feel a pull between pursuing their professional careers and being there for their kids. Flexible jobs, like those that allow telecommuting, allow for parents to attend to both of these areas without sacrificing one or the other.

We did a study in 2012 that found 97 percent of working parents thought that having a flexible job would make them better parents. Ninety-six percent said that having a traditional full-time job conflicts to some degree with important parts of taking care of their families.

With flexible job options, parents don’t have to make tough decisions, or feel like they need to “deceive” their employer in order to be there for their children.



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