I had just finished one of the most gruelling contracts I had done to date and by the end of it, it was fair to say I was pretty knackered. I was done waking up at 4.50am every morning, commuting for 3 hours door to door and I was also growing tired of being sent on a plane (regardless of it being a Bank Holiday) to ‘get business done’. The people I worked for didn’t respect their staff, which meant the turnover was huge. Did this peterb them? Seemingly not, because they knew there would be another ten hopefuls right behind the door after the last burnt out shells of their staff decided enough was enough. Therefore, it didn’t shock friends or family too much when the offer came to renew my contract and I politely declined.
I’ve been mulling over a new business idea for a while and it has come to my attention that in order to pursue it properly, I needed to find a job that would offer me the flexibility to do this. I immediately became a turn-off to recruiters as it didn’t make me the easiest candidate to place, especially as I had skill sets they were keen to place in available 5-day working roles: none of which were willing to compromise. I was told pretty bluntly by all of them that no one would want to hire me straight off the bat if I even uttered ‘4-day week’ and there was a good deal of eye rolling.
‘Do you like being called a millennial? Because this is such a millennial request’ – Garth, the recruiter.
Eurgh. I hate the negative connotations attached with the word ‘millennial’, as though this is a bad thing to be. If you think I should be embarrassed about the year I was born Garth, you’re very much mistaken. Even though the word itself does make me cringe, what it has offered me does not. The fact I feel confident that I can find a good paying and stimulating job that will allow me 4 days instead of 5, proves we do live in different times. I know there are opportunities of this degree available and arguments for work/life balance have never been so strong. The fact of the matter is, I’m not giving myself a ‘3-day holiday’, because I am spending the fifth day not spent working for my employees, working on a passion that will advance me in so many other ways.
I arrived at my sixth interview of the month at a new company who took me through the job requirements and the type of candidate they were looking for. I was told they were looking for someone full time who could manage all the tasks they had listed earlier. It was at this point that I could have chimed in with ‘but would you consider-?’ but it would have been too premature. Instead I sold myself and sold them the person I would be in the role and what it could mean for them as a company to have me on board. I asked loads of questions when asked and showed them I also knew around the job as well as the job itself. When I was finally asked if I had
‘-any further questions?’ I was confident that I was one of their top candidates for the role.
It was now that I politely said
‘ Yes, I would like to work a 4-day week’ and then explained why.
The ‘why’ is the most important bit. The ‘why’ is what holds the rest of the interview together and makes them want you regardless. The ‘why’ is the thing you should be obviously passionate about and it is the companies that allow their employees the flexibility to pursue vocations alongside their careers, that are ahead of the times. These are the companies that will have employee loyalty and respect because it is being given back to them in equal measures.
Being afforded the luxury of doing a 4-day week has done wonders for my mental well being and sense of purpose. In one breath you have job security and structure and on the other you have the freedom, flexibility and time, to do the thing you spend your nights thinking about. What if your pursuit isn’t working out? Can I go back to full time?
If you’ve built enough rapport with your employers and decide you’re more suited to working full time, five days a week, I very much doubt they’d be adverse to you going full time, unless perhaps they’re a startup and they’ve factored in budgeting. People get very scared at the prospect of asking for things.
Just remember that the worst thing anyone can do to you for asking for something, is saying no.