How do I know who makes my perfect job share pair?
Finding a job share partner is often cited as a barrier to making job-sharing happen. But it really doesn’t have to be all that difficult.
You’ve got two options - identifying potential pairs from within our community, and from within your network. We always recommend you do both, in tandem.
In this post, we explore who might make your great job share partner; where to find your perfect pair; when to look; and how to have an initial conversation, offering some questions and strategies you can use as prompts for initial conversations.
Who makes a perfect job share partner?
It’s worth starting with the observation that job-sharing doesn’t suit everyone: glory hunters need not apply. Nor those who struggling with listening. Job-sharers have to want to be part of a team, working together to achieve their goals (work and personal), or brainstorming with others to solve problems.
That’s not to say that job-sharers shouldn’t be ambitious – a core reason for sharing is to combine challenging work and fulfilling ambitions with reduced hours. But every sharer we interviewed recognised that achieving those ambitions rested upon the success of their partnership, and that sometimes that would mean their partner taking credit for a deliverable, or being called by one-another’s name!
So who makes your perfect job share partner?
Skills and experience
We spent a long time talking to job sharers, understanding why their partnerships are effective. And we found that the best partnerships bring a spread of skills and experience which is often greater than any one person can offer. What does that mean? You might have different background, perhaps have worked in different types of organisation (a start-up and a multinational, for example); you might have different strengths (detail, big picture, communication, policy), or management styles, or experiences (working abroad, or starting a business or...).
So – how do you figure out how to find the yin to your yang? You’ve got are two options.
1. The first is pretty simple - use our online matching tool – it assesses your skills, experience, your approach to work, and your values. We’ll give you a read out, and it will recommend a potential job share partner profile.
2. The second requires a little more work from you, but we’re setting it out here as you might prefer to work independently of us.
- Start by mapping your skills. Set them all out. (Our skills mapping exercise as a good place to start, but you might want to think about our sister project – Kitchen Table Coaching – which runs a brilliant session designed to get you to the best, most robust and evidenced iteration of your skills.)
- Then look at some role descriptions for the kinds of jobs you would be perfect for, and you would love to do. Look at where you answer the JD, and where the gaps are (because no-one has everything the role asks for); think about where your weaker areas are.
Those gaps, your areas of (relative) weakness – they describe your job share partner. You are both be capable of delivering the role, but you bring different strengths to it.
Either way, at the heart of a great partnership is chemistry. It’s worth saying that many great job share pairs aren’t friends out of work, and wouldn’t naturally socialise together – a pal isn’t necessarily a good option. But you need to like each other, to ‘click’. And you’ll only know that by spending time together. Don’t leap into a partnership (more below on testing a potential pairing.)
Where are they?
Finding a partner can feel like a huge obstacle to overcome. We know that many are put off from sharing because of the difficulty of finding someone. But actually, it doesn’t need to be too tricky.
As we said above, our matching wall is a great place to start. We are connecting people from our growing list of candidates who are looking for a job share pair and a role. Get involved here.
But don't forget to put the word out with family and friends - because you probably know your perfect pair already!
Many sharers have found their pair through informal work networks, social networks, or through friends. Don’t hesitate to put the word out. A simple email setting out your desire to job share, the kinds of roles you’re are looking for (giving a salary ballpark which indicates your level of seniority, without reveal your exact salary), and the ballpark skills and experience of your perfect pair. Ask them to forward it to anyone who might be a potential fit.
An initial chat
When you have found a list of potential partners, then you should just get to know one another. Email, go for a coffee, have an informal chat. Don’t put too much pressure on the conversation, see whether it clicks. You will likely start by talking about your backgrounds, interests, and reasons for considering job-sharing.
But then you might want to use some prompts to fully explore the partnership. For example:
If you have any experience of job-sharing (either personally, or working alongside a pair)
What you’ve most enjoyed about your work to date (roles, of course, but a project, developing a skill, or a relationship)
Similarly, you could talk about what you’ve most disliked at work
What you hope to achieve in your career
What makes a great relationship
How you deal with conflict
Your hopes for your partnership
What you want for your life in the long term
You could share these before you meet, so that you have thought about your answers before meeting. You don’t have to – whichever you feel comfortable with is certainly right.
When should I look?
It's a good question. Finding a job share partner involves some effort and time. It would be crazy to do this while your just dipping your toe in, not sure if it's for you. But if you're seriously considering it, then we'd recommend getting on the case. Your applications will be stronger if make it as a pair. Not only because you are ready to employed, ready to deliver a role; but also because you can show in the application process how you will work as a pair, and how you’re jointly bring to the table more than a single employee ever could.
If you are already in the process of applying as an individual, but wanting to job share (or even already in post), don't panic - it is still perfectly possible to find a pair retrospectively.
So there you go - not too tricky. Your perfect job share partner is out there, and a little bit of work will find them. Good luck!