Considering a Part-Time Job? First, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

by Jessica Sommerfield · 4 comments

going to work
The Department of Labor reports that job openings and unemployment numbers continue to be very healthy. Still, there are still 6.4 million people who aren’t able to find work and millions more who only work 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. After all, that lucrative job may not be at all worth it if you look at the full picture. 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 skillsets 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. Sure, you’ll get better at the job as you continue to work at it but the grind to excellence may be a long tough road for you.

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 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.

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  • Latoya says:

    These are some great thoughts. I agree, when I worked part-time I never took the job seriously unless I was using it as a springboard to get a full-time job. However, you really never know what types of opportunities will arise so you should consider each job carefully.

  • Centsai says:

    These were all great questions to ask yourself, thanks for sharing! My favorites were #2 and #3! It is important to know what you are looking for in a part time job and if you want freedom and flexibility or structure and consistency! After all not all jobs are a like and not all people want the same qualities in a job!

  • Praveen Kumar says:

    People should choose part time jobs based on their skill set. Otherwise they can’t work effectively

  • Abhinav Aditya says:

    Part time jobs are an excellent way to earn money but you need to focus more and should be ready to sacrifice more. Nice article Jessica and your 5 points are valid.

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