Monday, January 9, 2012

How to make job sharing a success

CareerMums spoke to Angela from Canberra about her successful negotiation to job share a full time high school teaching role. This case study will give you confidence to explore and negotiate an opportunity, despite the position being advertised as a full time role.

What do you do?

I am a high-school teacher returning to work after being on maternity leave for 4 years with my two boys. Returning full-time was not an option for me. My husband is away frequently and I felt that my boys needed some consistency in their lives which I would not be able to offer with the commitments involved in teaching.

Was the role being offered as a job share role?

The role was not advertised as a job share. I had spoken to a close friend who taught the same subject areas that I did about the idea of job-share. As she also has young children, the job-share idea was also an attractive alternative to part-time teaching which usually involves attending school every day due to the nature of time-tables in a high-school. A job which suited both of our teaching areas was advertised so we decided to give it a go. We handed our resumes and answers to the selection criteria in the one application with a cover letter addressing our intention to job share.

How did you negotiate a job share role?

We spoke to Kate from CareerMums about the position and asked for some advice about negotiating a job share role if we made it to the interview stage. During our interview (where we were interviewed together) we discussed the benefits such as experience over many fields in our teaching area, and the fact that we were able to cover each other on the days which the other needed to take off for various reasons. This is an attractive feature as relief staff are very difficult to get and creates disruptions to the students. We also mentioned our child-care arrangements which allow flexibility. I am teaching the Monday and Tuesday, my partner the Thursday and Friday and we will alternate the Wednesdays. It was also our personal decision to both be present at the school on the Wednesday for planning, marking and contact time with each other when there isn’t classroom contact.

What do you think are the benefits of job sharing?

Flexibility to be at home with my children while still continuing my career is the main benefit. With teaching, it is not just the student contact, it is the planning, assessment and administration involved which takes up many hours. Having another person sharing this responsibility makes a huge difference in the stress involved with the occupation.

What makes the partnership with you co-worker so successful?

We are very alike with a similar work ethic. Both of us are committed parents and wives yet also career minded. For this arrangement to work, both members need to put in an equal effort so it is important to know about your partner. Communication is a huge factor, especially with teaching. It is vitally important that the students have consistency with their subject matter and that we are providing fluid delivery of the information. The fact that we are both at school on the Wednesday provides an opportunity for discussion. It has taken us some extra work to develop a system for each subject so that we can go into school and pick up from where the other left off. This means always being a week ahead planned in detail as well as a term outline. We also call each other frequently. The only disadvantage of the job-share arrangement is it has destroyed our social life and we can no longer meet for coffee during the school term!!

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