Job Sharing Isn’t Just Served Up on a Silver Platter

By Beth Malmin & Angela Detviler

We love talking about our career partnership.

We developed it, we live-and-breathe it daily, and we’re proud of it. We get asked a lot about our job share (because let’s face it, job shares aren’t exactly common –– yet! –– and difference often peaks curiosity). After sharing our story over the past few years about our career partnership and how we choose to work, four out of five responses we receive sound something like this:

“You guys are so lucky to be able to job share.”

or…

I wish I had the opportunity to job share.”

You too can job share

Each time we hear one of these responses, we pause and take a moment to educate, because…you too can job share! For us, it was actually very little luck and a lot of planning and communication.

We agree that we are very lucky to have found a partner who shares similar career goals, but we’re not a career partnership out of pure luck or because the opportunity presented itself and it just-so-happened to work out.

  • We developed the vision of how we work together and why it makes sense,
  • Promoted our partnership to employers,
  • Proved how it worked and ‘what’s in it for them’,
  • And continue to share our journey.

We chose one another to partner with after months of learning more about one another and determining if we would be a good fit (yes, it’s kind of like dating).

There’s never been a situation for us where we were told by a prospective employer, “we have this job opportunity, but it’s only for a job share team.” Quite the opposite. One of our goals is to educate employers that all jobs –– regardless of what they are –– can be shared. You just need the right partners.

We developed the vision of how we work together and why it makes sense, promoted our partnership to employers, proved how it worked and ‘what’s in it for them’, and continue to share our journey.

Create your partnership

For current or future job-sharers, we have this advice: create your partnership. Figure out what works, what doesn’t, how you both work to be optimally effective, and promote it. Be able to strongly, clearly, and boldly articulate:

How does your partnership work?     

Think and talk about the specifics:

  • What should work handoffs look like?
  • What’s your communication strategy?
  • What are your parameters for when it’s appropriate to loop in the other partner on a non-workday?
  • How do you maintain a joint-front when only one person is working?
  • What happens if one job share partner makes a decision the other doesn’t agree with?

What is one partner intrinsically good at, and how does that complement the other partner’s strengths? How do you mitigate each other’s opportunities through your partnership? 

This one can take a while…months, if not years, to fully be able to express. At the beginning of our career partnership, we could easily tell anyone what each other’s strengths or opportunities are, but how they show up in different situations and how the other partner channels those strengths or compensates for their weaknesses? It took some time. It took different work situations for us to experience together and reflect on how it worked out the way that it did and how we might leverage the learning in future work.

Create guiding principles for your partnership

  • What will you always do together?
  • What is okay to complete separately?
  • What kind of work is right in your wheelhouse, and what will you not do?
  • What requires discussion, and what can be decided for the team by one partner?

Talk about these early in your partnership, and be open to change over time as needed.

Be able to complete the following sentences:

  1. This company/role benefits from our job share by _____.
  2. It will never be okay with my job share partner if _____. Again, this one will take time; it takes difficult situations, conversations, and vulnerability for the team to feel truly aligned.
  3. I am a better contributor by working with this job share partner because of _____.

Figure out what works, what doesn’t, how you both work to be optimally effective, and promote it.

With upfront planning, you have the potential to create a partnership that you want, one that will last!


This article is the second in Creating, Maintaining, and Leveraging Highly-Successful Career Partnershipsa series by job share leaders Beth Malmin & Angela Detviler of B&A Consulting Partners, based out of Minneapolis, MN.

Musings featuring or written by Beth Malmin & Angela Detviler:

Job sharing is a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. This article previously appeared in our newsletter. Join the #JobshareRevolution here –– events, resources, and relevant content to empower you in work and life! For more info, hello@workmuse.com.

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