Article: How one woman's job hunt led to building her own career site


How one woman's job hunt led to building her own career site

As a soon-to-be working mother, Sara Sutton was looking for companies that could offer her flexible job options. But she found very few. So, instead, she built an entire career platform. Today, she helps other jobseekers find flexible work.
How one woman's job hunt led to building her own career site

In 2007, Sara Sutton founded FlexJobs as a career resource for people on the hunt for flexible and remote work opportunities. At the time, offsite work was often seen as a perk or offered as a special arrangement for some.

Between 2000 and 2010, only about 9.2 million to 13.4 million people in the US were working remotely or following a flexible or hybrid arrangement. These days, however, experts predict that as many as 36.2 million Americans will be remote by 2025.

Resources like FlexJobs have grown popular over the years, especially during the COVID pandemic, but Sara's own journey towards building the site reflected the same struggles that many workers face.

As a soon-to-be working mother, she had been looking for companies that could offer her flexible job options, but found few that matched her needs. 

"I wanted to create a trusted, efficient site for people who want and need work flexibility to easily find legitimate, professional-level jobs in one place, without having to weed through scams, ads, or 'too good to be true' business opportunities," she told People Matters in an exclusive interview. 

Read more: Inside a tech giant's family-friendly work culture

How did you start FlexJobs?

I was going through a job search myself and looking for a position that would offer work flexibility (remote work options, a part-time or flexible schedule, or freelance work) while being in-line with my career. At the time, I was pregnant with my first child, and I knew that as I started my family I did not want a job that had a rigid, traditional schedule or arbitrary requirements to be on-site when I was able to be just as productive working remotely.

When I started looking for flexible job options, I quickly realised that it wasn't easy to find high-quality, professional jobs that offered options like telecommuting and flexible scheduling. I knew there were millions of people looking for these same types of jobs, so I saw a huge opportunity to create a quality service to help people who want or need work flexibility to find legitimate, professional jobs. 

What have been some of your own career challenges before and career milestones after establishing your company? 

Despite the fact that I was about to become a first-time mother, I believed in the idea so much that I decided to launch FlexJobs anyway! Since then, I've faced challenges, but have found inspiration in so many ways, especially through our jobseekers' stories and experiences. It's clear how important flexible work options are to people, and I firmly believe that a modern workplace should address the needs of today's workforce.

Thankfully, because FlexJobs is already a 100% remote team, we were able to maintain fairly standard operations throughout the pandemic. That being said, our team members have all individually been impacted in large and small ways, so internally we learned to place a huge emphasis on supporting our people, sharing resources, and incorporating the current situation and its challenges as a priority in our workplace culture. Also, because we are in a unique position to help those affected by the pandemic, we’ve made an effort to grow our jobseeker support services and expand our capabilities to help jobseekers as much as we possibly can.

What is your advice to jobseekers considering / transitioning to remote or flexible work?

The pandemic gave so many people the opportunity to experience the benefits of remote work, like flexibility and better work/life balance. In fact, one of our latest surveys found 43% of people quit their jobs because of a lack of remote work options

Ultimately, if there is dissatisfaction in your day-to-day work life, or you aren’t challenged or energised by going to work everyday, it may be time to make a change to a more aligned, flexible role. The following best practices are the most effective steps someone can take to be successful when transitioning to a remote-friendly job: 

Set up your home office

A dedicated and thoughtfully designed workspace not only helps you stay organised and productive, but also helps you create an essential boundary between work life and home life.  

Create a routine for your remote workday

Having a routine will help you stay on track and complete your tasks. Giving yourself even a loose structure for an average workday will help you avoid procrastinating and getting sidetracked.

Set boundaries

Part of your remote work routine should include setting expectations with your manager and team. For example, if you use Slack to communicate with co-workers, set times when you’re available and times when you’re totally offline, so people know not to expect a response to you. Then stick to it by turning off notifications, logging off, and tuning out when you aren’t working.

Practise proactive communication

While proactive communication should be your new golden rule, it’s also wise to familiarise yourself with any communication best practices that might be unique to your remote role and team.

Maintain a social life

As you create your work-from-home routine, don’t neglect your social life. Make time to meet up with old friends and catch up over lunch, or volunteer with a favourite charity or at your child’s school. Whatever it is, try to find something that helps you connect and interact with others to fill the social void that might develop when you work remotely.

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Topics: Recruitment, Culture, Leadership

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