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Part-Time Honesty

By Galia BarHava-Monteith

“I have 3 kids under 5. I have been contracting for several years but now feel I need the certainty of a permanent job and regular income. I have not had regular work since I had my last baby (now 1 year old) and finding ad hoc childcare when I do get work is simply too challenging.

My question is, going back into the job market, should I be up front with companies and tell them I am looking for part-time work before I even get offered an interview? Certainly, my experience with recruitment agencies has been that once they hear this, they have nothing for me and don’t contact me again.

I don’t want to lead prospective employers up the garden path. On the other hand, I feel perhaps I would have a better chance of negotiating a reduced working week if they were actually interested in hiring me.”

Honesty IS the Best Policy

You should always be honest and up front on such a fundamental aspect of the working relationship. No relationship established on incomplete facts can survive and your prospective employer must be on board with your needs from the outset in order for you to enjoy the flexibility that you need to make a success of your employment and your work life balance.

Wanting to work part time is not a crime or shameful! Progressive employers are willing to make it work by being creative about flexibility.

Recruiters’ Perspective

I’m not surprised at the response you’ve received from recruiters. Keep in mind that they generally get paid a proportion of the annual salary of the role they fill. Because of that, the prospect of recruiting someone for a part time position is not greatly appealing to them. Also remember that only a fraction of all jobs are filled through formal channels and this is particularly true for part time positions.

Good Impressions

If a role is clearly a full time role, I would hesitate to apply for it if I was in your position given that I’d be absolutely certain of only wanting part time work. If, however, it appears there’s a possibility a role could be handled by a part time worker, I’d apply. I’d prepare extremely well for it to make the best impression. That way, even if it turned out there was no possibility of this particular role being made part time, I’d hope the company would remember me next time something more appropriate cropped up.

Position Yourself to Succeed

When looking for a good part time role, you need to be strategic about it. Many women who go part time find themselves doing jobs which they are over-qualified for. This is a real risk to watch out for when searching for a permanent part time position.

Use the following steps to help you find a stimulating and career-enhancing part time permanent role and that elusive goal of work life balance!

1. Package your Skills, Abilities and Experiences

It has been my experience and observation that people with unique skills, abilities and experiences are better able to find great permanent part time roles. And you know what? We all have these qualities – it’s just that some of us are better at articulating them than others!

Use the Reflected Best Self exercise to discover and clarify your unique strengths, abilities and experiences and to provide you with actual examples of when you’re at your best.

Perfect your elevator pitch

Once you’ve done the Reflected Best Self exercise, write out your elevator pitch. This is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practised description of what makes your ’employee offer’ unique. It needs to be simple and jargon-free: your mother should be able to understand it in the time it would take to take a ride in an elevator.

The Reflected Best Self Exercise will provide you with plenty of compelling content to use in your elevator pitch. The challenge is to condense the pitch to make sure you are able to deliver it effectively in most situations.

2. Network, Network and Network

Armed with your elevator pitch, start attending networking events regularly. Try a few different ones to see which have the best mix of people for the type of roles you’re interested in. It’s a good idea to get business cards printed with your basic details. Follow up on any leads and if you hear about a company that might be interested in part time employees in the field that you’re in, make sure you contact them even if you haven’t met them directly.

Many companies take a long time to get around to going out to the market in a formal way with a part time role (because of the time, expense and thought required for establishing a role) and more often than not, these roles get filled through word of mouth.

Depending on where you are in New Zealand, you should be able to find several regular offline networking events that can be useful to you.

Reactivate your own networks

Call up old contacts and arrange to meet for a coffee. Be up front about wanting to find a permanent part time role. Just like formal networking, informal networking is an excellent way to find out what’s happening in the market place.

Use the internet and other less conventional methods of finding roles

Some of the internet job sites actually have very good selection of part time roles. Try Seek and you might be surprised to see how many part time roles there are in your category.

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