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I turned down my dream job because they wouldn’t offer it flexibly

mum and daughter

Katie has 2 children and after being made redundant whilst on parental leave with her second, she started the search for a new role. She shares her story of looking for a new role and the challenge of turning down her dream job because they would not allow it to be done in 4 days. This is a story that reinforces the need to align your career with your values and the importance of putting your family first.

You recently finished your second lot of parental leave however, experienced a redundancy during this. Tell us about the experience.

Yes, the broader team I was in underwent an enormous restructure just as I was heading on maternity leave with our second bub. They were fantastic though, and offered me the opportunity to take maternity leave and then make a call on my desire to return to the business when I was ready. I decided it was time for me to try something new.

So, that meant looking for a new job when your daughter was 9 months old. How was that?

It’s funny how your priorities change when you’re looking for a new role, with a new organisation, when you have two young children. I had been with my previous employer for over eight years and I think I’d taken for granted how comfortable I had become. Finding a great role, with a great company, that offers a degree of flexibility is actually quite difficult. I’m now much more selective with how I spend my time, and where I invest my energy. You have to be when you have two little humans who need you.

We understand you were offered a dream role managing a large team?

Yes, I was offered an incredible role, managing the sponsorship portfolio for one of the biggest brands in Australia. They sponsor everything and really value the role sponsorship plays in building connections and influencing brand perception. If I had to sit and write my perfect job description, this was it.

So why did you turn it down?

It was a big role and they didn’t feel it could be done successfully in four days. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that one day per week I have with my girls. I think any role can be done successfully in four days, if the employee is efficient, organised and able to prioritise. I didn’t want to jump back into a workplace that didn’t have my back on this.

How did they react?

They were surprised. Probably because I had told them in my interview that this was close to a dream job for me! I was shocked when I was told it couldn’t be done in four days, and disappointed they’d lose their preferred candidate over the issue of flexibility. But they didn’t put up a fight, which helped validate that I’d made the right call.

How did it feel to know you were living by your values?

It just felt right. When I was offered the role (on a full-time basis only) I actually felt unwell.  I knew I had a big call to make, but it was the right one for me and my family at this point in time. I’m never going to get these days back with my girls, but there will always be full-time jobs out there.

You have now started in a new role. How different was the experience between companies?

Polar opposite. I’m currently on a contract role with one of Australia’s biggest brands and managing a couple of great projects that challenge me, but don’t completely consume me. My current workplace is flexible, my co-workers are wonderful and I am comfortable knowing that I made the right choice (although the ‘what ifs’ do occasionally haunt me!)

Why do you feel so many companies still look at flexible working as a burden?

To be honest, I think the pendulum is swinging, and most companies are now open to a degree of flexibility. That’s why I was so surprised there was no space for negotiation on the other role. If companies want to attract and retain the best people, they need to be flexible (within reason).

What is your advice to anyone who is negotiating flexibility but not succeeding?

I wasn’t willing to beg for flexibility for several reasons. I think you need to follow your gut, and trust that nobody knows what’s best for your family better than you do.

And finally, what do you love about being a working mama?

I love thinking about something that has nothing to do with children, housework and cooking!! I also love the social aspect. The juggle might not be for everyone, but I honestly believe it makes me a better mum.

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