Finding your dream (part-time) job


 by Vivian Steir Rabin

often ask me how to find meaningful part-time work, something other
than bagging groceries, answering phones, selling clothes, or stuffing
envelopes. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet, but here are some surprisingly successful strategies.

  1. First,
    of all, don’t spend a lot of time perusing the part-time ads on job
    boards or in newspapers and don’t tell everyone you meet that you’re
    looking for a part-time job.
    “Part-time” may be one of the most important aspects of the job to you, but when someone hears that they automatically think “this person just wants to make a little money. She’s not really interested in making a contribution.”

  1. Instead, tell everyone you meet about the kind of work you’d like to do. “I’d like to get back to doing PR work” or “I’m ready to get back into finance.” Open yourself up to a range of options—full-time, part-time, consulting, freelance, interim or project assignments. Take the focus off the hours and put the emphasis on the substance.

  1. Pursue full-time jobs that are results-oriented, then ask about flexibility. For example, one of the women we interviewed for Back on the Career Track had been a magazine advertising sales rep before she left the workforce. She
    saw a posting for a similar job in her area and applied, despite the
    fact that she only wanted to work part time, because she knew the field
    is results-oriented. Toward the end of her interview, when
    she could tell they were interested in her, she asked if there might be
    the possibility of reduced hours and telecommuting in this position. Their answer: “for the right person, there would.” Bottom line: She got the job, was the only mother in her group, and the only one working primarily from home and primarily part time. But her sales results rival those of her peers, and that’s all that matters. Obviously some jobs, such as sales positions, convert more easily to part time than others.

  1. Another
    strategy is to approach small to mid-sized companies in your area that
    interest you, figure out where in the company you might be able to add
    value, and propose to them what you think you can do for them.
    you can’t network your way in, consider writing to the president (if
    it’s really small) or the relevant department head (if it’s mid-sized):
    “I notice you’re trying to expand in such-and-such a way. I
    believe my experience in X and Y could be valuable to you in reaching
    that goal.” Then trot out your experience and credentials as proof. If you get a meeting and seem to get along, propose to start with a consulting project. I actually tried this tactic myself seven years ago when I was inching my way back into the workforce. I
    stumbled across an intriguing training company and wrote to the
    president proposing to help expand their client base and teach some of
    the training sessions. When I followed up with a call, they asked me to come in and give them a 30-minute sample course. Following my presentation, they started talking to me about how we might work together. I
    didn’t end up signing on, because some of the other leads I had in
    process proved more promising, but the experience boosted my confidence
    and convinced me that the best way to find a job that works in your
    life is not to find one but to create it.

  1. Keep in mind that everyone has their own definition of part time. As
    my colleague Carol Cohen wrote in a post a few weeks ago, once you’re
    in deep discussions with a company about a consulting project or a
    flexible opportunity, make sure you’re all crystal clear on what the
    expectations are regarding hours, face time and results.

    Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin are the co-authors of the acclaimed career reentry book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work , and the co-founders of iRelaunch
    , a company providing career reentry programming, events, and
    information to employers, universities, organizations and to mid-career
    professionals in all stages of career break.

    For more information on Relaunching, see iRelaunch and check out Back on the Career Track. Carol and Vivian can be reached at

Photo credit:

Vivian Steir Rabin Carol Fishman Cohen

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