What Women Want @ Work: 4 Ways to Build Flexibility into Your Career
June 18, 2013
It was about 15 years ago when the concept of “balance” started making the media rounds. After reading yet another article about the importance of establishing this magical equilibrium I took the concept to my office. I walked the halls asking the very question that was making headlines, “Are you balanced?” The responses ranged from, “I brushed my teeth in the car this morning” to “My kid called his sitter mama.” Childless and ambitious, I decided that balance is bu*#@hit. That was until about two years ago when I had my son and started to understand what all the rage was about.
I have officially joined the more than 60% of women across the United States surveyed in LinkedIn’s What Women Want at Work study who identify work-life balance as the most important factor when defining personal success. Over the course of the last five to ten years women have come to believe time is worth more than money and that power is being able to choose your own schedule.
Flexibility is the new currency for women in today’s marketplace. And beyond identifying employers who get the fact that you are more professionally productive when you’re able to tuck your kids in at night, volunteer for causes you care about and even get to the gym every now and then, LinkedIn empowers you with ways in which to work more productively and create more balance in your life. Here are four ways to build a little flexibility into your career.
Build a Name for Yourself. In this day and age of 24/7, you don’t actually have to be awake for it all if you build yourself a professional brand that works for you while you’re visiting your best friend or at your kid’s soccer game. With more than 225 million members on LinkedIn, you can bet that before a new client gives you a call or an executive loses a night’s sleep because they’re desperate to fill an accounting position, they’ll be searching for you. Fill out your profile in its entirety, including videos, images and presentations of your work, and make sure you take credit for all the skills and experiences you’ve attained over the years (including those years you were fundraising for the PTA). The key to working the hours you want is to make sure your professional brand is available—even when you’re not.
Be Heard. Speaking of your professional brand and how to leverage it when you’re at a spin class, use LinkedIn to build a voice when you’re not available to chat. Invest a few hours every week contributing your opinion and expertise in industry groups and sharing interesting articles, quotes and professional accolades (both yours and others) with your connections. Another way of being heard is to ask another member to extol your professional prowess. Recommendations not only save potential employers time but it’s one of the most effective ways of getting noticed.
Be Informed. This isn’t the most politically correct thing to say but it’s true. Flexibility is often seen as a prize— something that you need to prove to your boss that you deserve. The quickest way to demonstrate your productivity in order to leverage it for flexibility is to be in the know, to front run industry trends and to be able to find affinities to build meaningful connections. Before a meeting, look up the profile of the person you’re about to meet, and you’ll be one question further away from “Where did you work before this?” and one step closer to “Do you keep in touch with John Smith? I hear he just accepted a huge position at IBM.” LinkedIn is your one stop shop for the content you need to be the smartest, most prepared, most productive professional you can be.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. I’ve had this concept down in the world of career for many years now but it wasn’t until I recently had to tackle a challenge regarding my son that I really understood the power of learning from others in order to gain expediency. There were a few moments when I wondered if I was doing a disservice to my son by not doing the research myself (what I’ve heard many women say in regard to building their careers) and what I’ve discovered is that the more efficient I am about discovering what I need to know, the more time I get to spend with my son. The exact same concept applies to your career. If you want to build flexibility and balance in your career—if you need to spend your time taking risks and being innovative so that you are at the top of your industry (which leads to even more flexibility when it comes to your schedule) get access to the information that’s readily available and build upon it. If you have a career goal and aren’t sure how to get there, take a look at the trajectory of the career of someone who is where you want to be, find mentorship in Groups like Connect: Professional Women’s Network powered by Citi and ask questions within Groups.
Learn how women from around the globe achieve balance in the workforce by taking a look at LinkedIn’s What Women Want at Work Survey. Have a work-life balance tip you’d like to share? Fire away on our LinkedIn Company page or Tweet @LinkedIn.