The Department of Labor reports that jobs were up in recently while unemployment was down. Still, some point to the 94 million people that aren’t in the workforce and the fact that 90,000 of those new jobs are only part-time. Being unhappily unemployed or only working part-time isn’t ideal, but reports show that the majority ‘not in the workforce’ are retirees, students, and stay-at-home parents (it may be their choice). The increase in part-time employment may also have more to do with the trend toward a ‘gig economy’ than the availability of full-time work.
Are you among those avoiding a full-time job because of your stage in life or bucking the traditional workplace? In either case, you might be considering a part-time job.
I’ve noticed that people tend to have a more casual attitude toward part-time work than full-time work. They don’t take it nearly as seriously. Why is this? In my opinion, unless you need to grab the first job you come across just to make ends meet, you should put just as much care into choosing a part time gig as you do a full time one. Any job has a tremendous impact on your life, your finances, and your long-term career goals. With that in mind, here are three questions I recommend you ask yourself when considering a part time gig.
1. Why do you want to work part time?
The answer will influence the type of job you choose. Are you:
- Strictly looking to earn some extra cash?
- Looking for some physical activity to offset a sedentary lifestyle?
- Need something that’s fun and stress-relieving?
- Looking to meet people and socialize?
- Trying to boost your resume with career-related experience?
- Interested in exploring a hobby that could turn into a career?
- Attempting to challenge yourself to learn something new?
If your focus is extra cash, you’ll need to factor in drive time, gas mileage, and work-related expenses to determine net income, regardless of how lucrative a job appears. If you want a stress-free job, something in retail or customer service might not be a good idea. And, if you mostly want to boost your resume, pay takes second-seat to an opportunity for valuable experience in your niche.
2. Do you need structure or want freedom?
One of the greatest benefits of part-time work is working fewer hours. Still, the structure of part-time jobs varies greatly. Some of us need a boss looking over our shoulder and a time clock that sets clear borders between work and free time, while others appreciate more freedom to work on our own terms and schedule. If you need freedom, you may want to explore crowd-sourcing jobs in the sharing economy or freelancing.
3. Can you work flexible hours or do you need consistency?
Even some structured part time jobs allow you to set your own schedule. However, many seasonal jobs and service industries require you to be flexible. Can you work the swing shift, respond at a moment’s notice, and work late if necessary? If not, you should choose a job that accommodates your scheduling needs.
4. Do you have the skills?
Many people underestimate the skill sets required for part time jobs. In general, you’ll need to be more adaptable, patient, and self-motivated. If you’re working with people, you’ll need excellent interpersonal skills. Some jobs promise high earnings, but require intense marketing efforts and salesmanship. Know what the job requires and if you have the chops.
5. Are you willing to put in 100% of your effort even if you’re not 100% invested?
One of the things that often bugs employers about part time workers is their attitude. They aren’t committed, and it shows. Remember that how you treat your part time job reflects your work ethic, influences your references, and ultimately impacts your long-term career, even in other fields. If you’re interested in part-time work, consider what level of effort you’re willing to invest.
Getting part time jobs may seem like an easy task, but how you treat this opportunity can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Spend the time to figure out why you want the job in the first place and give the decision the attention that it deserves.