If the long hours of a full-time job just aren't working for you and your family--but you still want/need some income--job sharing might be for you.

Updated Feb. 16, 2014

If the long hours of a full-time job just aren’t working for you and your family–but you want/need at least some gainful employment–job sharing might be for you.

Job sharing means you split your job’s functions with another person (or more than one), each of you working part-time. If you were professional wrestlers, you’d be a tag team. But probably without the awesome costumes.

Since I personally haven’t job-shared, or worked with people who do, I thought it might help to talk to some WMAGs in the job-sharing trenches. Here’s how one WMAG describes her experience (via a discussion in an online working moms’ group):

I’m currently doing a 50% job share and I have been doing so for 2 and 1/2 years. I LOVE it, because I need to have some sort of outlet away from home and I love my job (I’m a kindergarten teacher.)

I think the main reason it is working so well for me is because I have an incredible job-share partner and my principal and grade level team are incredibly supportive. Both my partner and I work way more than our 50%, but like all teachers, we are not in it for the money…

So, the biggest pro is I get to do what I love for half a week every week and I get to spend time with my daughter for half a week. The biggest con is getting everything done in a short amount of time and allotting planning time. I don’t know what it’s like in other careers because I’ve only ever been a teacher. We do not get a lot of extra time for planning what we are going to teach, so my partner and I are constantly talking on the phone, emailing, or coming in on our off-days and/or weekends to coordinate/collaborate/plan the week ahead.

A job share is in many ways like a marriage–you have to have really good communication, honesty, and trust with your partner and on the days you are not there, you have to let a lot of things go that you might not if you were there. You also have to have understanding coworkers, which I am very lucky to have.

My schedule is as follows: I work every Thurs. and Fri. and every-other Wed. My partner works every Mon. and Tues. and every other Wed. We have staff meetings every Wed, so whomever is teaching that Wed. is responsible for going to the meeting and taking notes for the other person. We are both there the first week of school and the last few days of school.

There is another team of teachers at my school with a 50% job share and they teach a full week every other week.

So how do you get a job-sharing gig? Most likely, you won’t be so lucky as to have it handed to you. You’ll have to do some legwork, find the right partner, and propose a bulletproof plan to your employer of choice.

First, think about who would make the perfect job-share partner for you. Someone who already works with you? Someone you’ve worked with before? Or someone new?

You could find a job-sharing partner. Flexible work expert Pat Katepoo suggests tapping your own existing network and workplace, or turning to reputable employment agencies and placement offices such as Flexible Resources or Mom Corps. If you don’t find the right person immediately, don’t give up. Give it time.

Once you find your job-sharing soulmate, you need to get down on bended knee and make the proposal. In it, you’ll have to describe:

  • how you and your partner(s) qualify for the position
  • how you’ll be divvying up the work (this will require plenty of details)
  • how and when you plan to communicate (“lots and lots” is the correct answer)
  • what your salary and benefits should be
  • answers to every possibly question the employer might have

Creating a winning proposal may seem daunting. If you’re not sure how to whip one up from scratch, consider using a template or even getting a coach. For example, WorkOptions.com offers a job-sharing proposal template. (Cara used the WorkOptions.com part-time proposal template to get her current gig.)

Another helpful resource is this Harvard Business Review article by Amy Gallo about how to make a job sharing situation work, including some do’s and don’ts and relevant case studies.

I hope this helps working moms who are thinking about job sharing. Good luck and keep us posted!