Living through a global pandemic has caused many people to reflect on their careers. Some people are desperately seeking more work while others want to slow down and no longer work full time. And some are thinking about moving to a different occupation and see securing a part-time role as a stepping stone to that new career.
Whatever the reason, if you are seeking part-time and more flexible work, here are some tips to get you on track.
1. Know your context
Consider your current circumstances and be clear on your expectations regarding part-time work. This analysis includes deciding on things such as your preferred hours, salary expectations, type of work and location.
If your shift involves a change of industry or profession, you may need to upskill or retrain somehow. How much energy and time are you willing to devote to this?
It’s essential to be aware of what’s possible from the outset. Working out your needs can help you best target relevant options.
2. Find the options
There are many forms of part-time work. It may be working fewer hours (traditional part-time), working the same hours but over fewer days (a compressed working week) or working to deliver a defined piece of work for a fixed rate (consulting/contract work).
It helps to know what type of work will meet the needs you identified earlier, as there are different conditions and security attached to the options.
For example, moving from one short-term contract to another means you are likely to have a higher level of job insecurity. However, the upside is you can decide how much time you want off between each piece of work.
3. Seek the hotspots
There are a growing number of jobs and professions where flexible working options are available. Some industries have more established practices – particularly retail, health care, consulting firms, government sector, education, hospitality and other service-based industries.
So, do your homework and talk with as many people as you can. Find contacts, or friends of friends, who work in the area you are interested in working. Your network is crucial to helping you secure your next career step.
By talking to people, you’ll better understand the potential fit between the industry you want to work in and those industries where part-time work is readily available.
4. Be flexible
The more flexible you are, the easier it will likely be to find part-time work. Where practical, strive to not be too rigid with your expectations. If you can accommodate your potential employer’s needs and make yourself highly valued in the workplace, it’s easier to negotiate what you want.
For example, you may want to consider being open to taking on more hours during peak periods for your organisation. If that’s the case, make that clear to your prospective employer during the hiring process.
5. Think ahead
If you are working full time and want to move to part-time, then plan ahead. It’s often easier to get flexible work in the organisation you are already working for. If you are keen to go part-time, give your boss plenty of notice, so they have time to consider and plan.
If they are hesitant about how it may work and whether it is suitable, consider offering to work part-time on a trial basis so that you can demonstrate how it can work effectively. Make sure you both agree on the trial’s duration and how you will measure its effectiveness right from the beginning.
6. Ask the question
The saying “Don’t ask. Don’t get” often rings true. When you apply for roles, ask about the options for part-time work. It can be a good idea to have your case spelled out about why working part-time benefits the organisation and how it can work.
As you do this, highlight what you may bring to the role. If you have the skills, experience and attitude the organisation is looking for, they are likely to be more willing to try and find ways to make the flexibility work.
7. Stay the course
Recruiting staff is costly so if you can emphasise to your potential employer your commitment and dedication to the position it can add to your attractiveness as a candidate.
Once you are hired, always seek to deliver value and more than what your boss expects. When you are reliable, productive, and a great contributor to the team, your employer will rely on you, which helps with any future negotiations about workplace flexibility.
8. Manage your identity
Many of us have an image of ourselves that connects to the work we do. This career identity shifts over time, and when you move from full-time to part-time work, there can be an identity clash. This clash can cause stress. It’s critical to know how to manage this.
Psychologist and researcher Susan David found that emotionally agile people are not immune to stresses and setbacks. What’s different is they know how to gain insight about those situations and interactions by noticing their feelings and using this knowledge to adapt or align their values and actions, and then change.
As part of your preparation, review your career to determine its significance to your sense of self. Then ask yourself – is my current career identity helping or hindering my career progress? And consequently, what do I need to keep doing, stop doing or start doing?
9. Keep mentally and physically sharp
As your career hunt progresses, there will be good days and not-so-good days. Consequently, managing your energy is critical. Map out your schedule and include time for you. Your body, mind and soul need time to rejuvenate to ensure it is best placed to thrive in our complex, changing world.
Lastly, as you make choices and decide what to do (and what not to do), remember the wise words of Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who said: “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”
Cover image source: FrankHH/Shutterstock.com
About Michelle Gibbings
Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of three books. Her latest book is Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one. She has more than 20 years’ senior executive experience across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Follow her on LinkedIn.
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