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How did I negotiate a part-time job? - Guest Blog by Nicky Ellison

I work a three day per week role for S&P Global Commodity Insights, who provide energy research and analytics.

I had been a stay-at-home mum for about two and a half years, and I had already negotiated and accepted a role with S&P when I met Simon and joined The Returners' Tribe.

We thought it would be helpful to share how I secured a negotiated a part-time job (specifically three day per week) as it was advertised as a five day per week role and my predecessor did it in five days.

First, I brought it up in my first interview towards the end. I stated that my ideal solution would be to work three days per week. The company sent me an email after the interview asking whether I would consider doing 4 days instead.

Rather than replying by email, I asked whether I could have a call to discuss further and said I thought it might be easier over the phone. I provided times I could speak to them on that day and the next day, so that I didn’t make the process too complicated.

Oil pump at sunset

I then prepared for this call thoroughly with a working mum friend who was wearing more of a business hat than I was at that point in time, (I was still in full Mummy mode). We wrote down bullet points with all the arguments for why I felt the role could be accomplished in 3 days.

My key arguments were:

  • Nature of the job – the region I was being asked to cover is famously slower than other parts of the world due to particularly long tender processes.

  • Past experience – I was already a user of the company’s product and had several years of experience in the industry so (i) my learning curve would be shorter and (ii) I knew that Friday is a less busy day in the oil and gas world.

However, in the phone call the main thing I did was ask a lot of questions about the job specification and the duties of the job across Monday to Friday. I tried to unpick what the job really entailed, and I managed to draw out that my predecessor was doing work outside of her region and likely had some down time.

I basically tried to approach the problem as a business consultant and dug deep to understand what they needed. This helped them to see that i) I had an analytical mind (great for the job!) and ii) I was motivated to make it work and understood the business needs.

I then explained that I felt that by working Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would still provide effective coverage of my region across the week because Friday is typically a quieter day in our field and Wednesday would only be one day away.

We concluded the phone call with them asking me to come back to them with what I could feasibly do. I took a couple of days to mull it over and then I wrote an email back where I stood by my original proposal.

Working mum with baby

I offered to do three long days of 8 hours from my start month, and to review four months later and discuss me potentially increasing to 4 days per week (7 hours/day). I added the following sentence: “This scenario would allow me to make a great start for the team, getting my training done and providing excellent coverage for [my region], before reviewing in September when everyone in the industry is typically back from holidays.”

They responded saying they understood my point about the holidays, and they did proceed to offering me a contract. I have now been doing the role for ten months and no-one has ever tried to pressure me to move to 4 days per week. At times it has been stressful, but I have worked hard with my team and with Simon of The Returners’ Tribe to make things work. Another blog on that will be coming soon!

I hope this blog provides some help and inspiration to others out there on how to negotiate a 3-day week. Please contact me if you would like a chat, I’d be really happy to talk more about it.

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