Virtual work is here to stay and can be a great fit for a lot of job seekers. One of the main reasons job seekers cite preference for virtual work is the flexibility. However, virtual and flexible don't always go together! Workplace flexibility can be defined several ways: flexible hours, unlimited vacation, the ability to set one’s own schedule, reduced hours for reduced pay, paid leave, sabbaticals, etc. We find that job seekers often equate “virtual” with “flexible”. These two terms, however, are not necessarily synonyms and candidates would be wise not to assume that a virtual opening is flexible. A job that requires an employee to sit in front of their desk for 8-10 hours straight each day can be defined as inflexible, whether the employee’s desk is in their home or a corporate office.
It’s important for job seekers to spend time thinking about their career goals, and be honest with themselves on how they work best,(hint: it is not in person for everyone nor is it virtual for everyone) and the type of role that fits them best. Before a candidate sets their sights on a virtual role, they need to consider whether that is the best choice for them and their lifestyle. We consistently work with top-tier firms that work primarily in office and boasted significant flexibility and work life balance pre-Covid and continue to do so post-Covid. Conversely, we’ve heard from candidates in virtual roles that they were surprised to find such little flexibility or work life balance in some of the virtual jobs they have pursued. One objection we hear frequently has to do with the timing of a normal work day. For example, if you are located in the Eastern time zone, but work virtually for a firm several time zones away that wants you to “stay late with them.” If you are a candidate that is seeking flexibility and work life balance, don’t make the mistake of overlooking compelling opportunities that require some presence in an office.
How are job seekers supposed to determine whether a firm offers the flexibility they seek? Being transparent and inquiring about a firm’s culture and expectations during the interview process, without sounding entitled, will go a long way in helping a thoughtful job seeker to find the ideal fit. Further, attentively listening to the interviewer when they describe the firm’s culture and preferred work flow may offer cues. If the interview process includes a confidential conversation with an existing employee, this may be the ideal time to gather information on the firm’s culture. If it does not, you should ask to go out to lunch with a few of the employee’s and ask them direct questions about what life is really like.
It’s important to note that flexibility is not the only quality a candidate should seek in identifying the right fit. Career track, the opportunity for personal and professional growth, mentorship, compensation growth, the quality of the financial planning delivered to the client, and other elements of firm culture are also important. Also remember that the firm must remain profitable and “flexible” is not relief from responsibility. If you, as an aspiring planner, wish to grow into a lead advisor, you’re going to have to go “above and beyond” and add value to the firm no matter where you are located or what your structure is.
If you are a job seeker looking for the ideal fit in the financial planning profession, submit your resume, or apply for one of these stellar opportunities. Our team loves assisting eager new planners in their search to find the right path for them in the profession, whether that’s virtual or in person.
We hope this was helpful so you don't end up getting burned by an opportunity that uses a buzzword to get you excited, but turns out to be inflexible which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Have a great holiday and let us know if we can do anything to help you navigate to your ideal career journey!