Tuesday, 15 November 2016

How to get a part-time job

Charlie, Me and Aiden. Photo by www.andreathompson.com.au 
While I was in Byron Bay recently attending the fab Business Chicks Movers and Breakers Conference I was contacted by a Human Resources (HR) Colleague and friend. She sent me a message on Facebook promoted by an article I shared called this is the reason women should never give up their jobs.  You can go have a read if you like..... I can wait.

You see I don't think women should give up their jobs. I just don't, but I also know that circumstances at different times make this hard for some people and I don't judge. This is just how I feel about things.

My colleague/friend wanted some advice because she wanted to return to work now that her kids are in school, but was struggling to gain part-time work in her profession.  She had to leave her previous job because the company wouldn't provide flexible work when her second child wasn't well. She needed some help and advice.

I have written about working part-time before. I wrote about it here back in 2014 and then I had my friend Jacqui write about it here, about her attempt to reduce her full time hours. Today I have been doing some more research and writing on part-time work (beyond this post) and did you know that in Australia 43% of women work part-time? I think part of the reason is that women still bear the majority of caring for children and elderly parents and looking after the household. There is obviously a big need for this type of work.

Did you also know that women retire with less than half of the retirement savings of men? There are reasons for this, including not earning the same as men for equivalent work, spending time out of the workforce to have children and working part-time. You can check out the appalling stats here, page 4 

But back to the point of the post. How do you get a part-time job? There is huge competition for part-time roles because;

a) lots of women want part-time roles,  and (unfortunately for my colleague and friend) 
b) the HR profession, in particular, is full of women who would really like a part-time role.

Whenever part-time roles are advertised I suspect there are hundreds of people who apply. It's tough. I think the majority of part-time jobs are created by people in full time jobs who need something to give. They were able to argue for something that suits them better and will have a track record of performance behind them. I don't think these kind of roles are offered up very often in the open job market, so here was my advice to her which may help you too.

Apply for full time roles
If/when you are offered a full time role you could try negotiating for a part-time one. I think this works for a 4 day a week role but not less than that. Companies that think they need someone in a role doing full time hours are unlikely to consider much less. 

You need to think about how you could do a full time 5 day a week role in 4 days. 

Maybe you do 5 days (38 hours) in four e.g. work longer hours on 4 days?
Maybe you can present an argument of how your understanding of the role could be done in a only 4 days a week?
Maybe you could think about working 5 days but with slightly shorter hours e.g. start later than normal and/or finish earlier than normal?

I have a friend who applied for full time jobs and when she was offered one she negotiated to work 4 days per week and was successful. 

The risk with this option is that you erode some trust upfront and what if it doesn't work? Hmmm....

Apply for a full time job, get through probation and then negotiate part time hours. 
This may be a better option than the first one as you know the company and the role better. Though you may need childcare options for the length of the probationary period (usually 3-6 months), if this is the reason for wanting to work part-time. You would be in a better position to work out how you could do the job on reduced hours. Of course there is the risk that the company won't agree to your proposal and you are stuck doing a full time job, or would need to resign.

Work full time
This is a tough option but if you have family support (grandparents etc), can access childcare and/or before and after school care. This option also gives more money so you could potentially have a cleaner to help with some of the household stuff and get your partner to do their share. Honestly, this is my favourite option. I know it's the toughest but I truly believe it's the best.  

OR
What about you and your partner (should you have someone to share the parenting) negotiate some part time hours or flexible options? If your partner is the main breadwinner even just leaving work early a couple of days a week can be a help in picking up children, doing some grocery shopping and cooking the evening meal.

Would love to hear about other ideas for securing part-time work......

Do you like the photo of the boys and I at the top of this post? It was taken by Andrea Thompson in June at Byron Bay (can you tell I really like Byron Bay?). Andrea is a long time friend and Brisbane (Australia) based photographer. She has done numerous family shoots for me as well as some corporate gigs. She has also just won the AIPP Queensland Professional Wedding photographer of the year for 2016! Andrea is a great example of making her work, work for her. She is able to do what she loves while also looking after her family.

5 comments:

  1. A great article Lisa and a reminder to me of why I really enjoyed my part-time/job-share role and why persistence does pay-off. I don't have children however wanted part-time work after years of full-time. A friend in HR working for a large corporation told me of a role but it was full-time. Long story short the business offered the role as a temp position which I applied for and got. I made it clear early on that I really only wanted part-time (four days). When I was offered the role as a permanent full-time position my manager added to my contract that the role would be reviewed in six months with a view to job-sharing. Luckily for me the business already had a job-share model in operation so my manager and I could see how it worked. It was made clear to me that I would be the one to recruit a partner and also make the arrangement work. True to his word my role was reviewed and I found a partner to job-share with. I no longer work for that business; we moved overseas (twice!). I am still friends with my job-share. It was a learning curve for me on many fronts. I learnt if you don't take a risk you could miss out on a great opportunity. Sarah B

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Sarah. I had forgotten that you job shared and that it worked well. Great input. I may just right a book. Could I use your example?

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  2. Fantastic article Lisa. I agree with Sarah: the job share model is also an option. It requires two completely aligned people to make it work, but I have seen it done really well (not in senior roles however). You REALLY need to write a book and keep blogging! I, along with many others, love your straight forward approach and your ability to articulate different insights on relevant topics.

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