If you need full benefits and/or a substantial salary, the question of part-time or full-time might be easy for you to answer. However, in many cases, it’s not so straightforward.
Part-Time vs Full-Time Trade-Offs
Clearly, you stand to receive more income if you work a full-time position, and the employment package generally includes at least some benefits, such as vacation and health insurance. For those of you who are the sole or primary breadwinner in your household, that’s a key factor to consider.
On the other hand, part-time employment can provide significantly more flexibility regarding your overall schedule and (often, though not always) the location you work from.
Job sharing is one form of part-time employment that’s been around a long time, but I’m not sure (based on what I read and hear) that it’s widely enough accepted to represent a viable option for many of you who might otherwise consider it.
One advantage of part-time employment that’s not always considered is that some of your expenses could be noticeably lower than for full-time employment–for example, commuting (gas, bridge tolls, etc.), wardrobe (fewer suits, etc.), child care if you have young children, and so on.
Part-Time Opportunities–Even for Executives
We used to think of part-time employment as something for the hourly rank-and-file employees; however, it appears that trend might be changing.
In an article titled “Trends in Hiring Executives with Part-Time Schedules” Sara Sutton Fell, CEO/Founder of FlexJobs, references a 2013 story by Alison Maitland called “The Part-Time Executive.” It mentions a study of 50 executives in the United Kingdom who work part-time.
How the executives (most of them women) managed their schedule varied–for example, compressed work-weeks and three-on/four-off (but available). Some of the part-time executives provide services to more than one company, much like a consultant. Typically, of course, they don’t receive benefits.
Can Anyone be a Part-Time Executive?
As Fell’s article indicates, not necessarily. “Lea Paterson of Bank of England says it perfectly: ‘To be a good boss you need to be able to delegate, to recruit good staff, and to trust them to get on and do the work without checking on them every minute.’ Paterson continues: ‘When you’re part-time, you’re forced to do this anyway.’”
You also need to have exceptionally strong skills in areas other than your primary career focus, including organization/time management and communication/relationship-building. These can be a critical factor in helping you overcome the gap caused by not being present all the time.
Who Gets to Choose?
The reality is, of course, that you might not have a choice between part-time or full-time employment. Part-time work might be the only game in town for the kinds of jobs you’re seeking or the locations where you want to work.
Conversely, your field of expertise might consist mainly, if not entirely, of full-time positions–even more than full-time, if they involve typically long hours and you don’t have the option of working fewer hours.
In the end, as with many things, you might have choices to make, based on your particular situation, and the final choice might not be entirely yours. However, it’s to your advantage to consider the pros and cons, the cans and can’ts, and make the best decision you can under the circumstances.
In the days before GPS, you didn’t take a trip to unfamiliar territory without a roadmap. If you did, you were likely to get lost and waste a lot of time trying to find your way again! The same is true of your hopes for career success.
Note that a roadmap can often include more than one route to a given destination. For example, you might want to stick to the freeways as much as possible to reach your destination quickly or you might be in the mood to amble along some country lanes and avoid the fast-track route. The point is that you might have a choice in how you get where you want to go. Maybe you don’t even care if it takes you halfway to forever to end up there.
When it comes to your career, though, halfway to forever is a long time to wander aimlessly. Time and other events might not work in your favor, either. While you’re dithering, your competitors might be sweeping past you on their way to the prize.
Career Roadmap Choices
Sometimes I work with clients who tell me they kind of “fell into” their current career. Maybe an early job opportunity led to the next one in the same industry or they took the first job they found, just to pay the bills, and ended up staying in that field. In other words, they never made a conscious choice. They went with whatever crossed their path.
To stick with the roadmap analogy, these individuals started their journey without any specific destination in mind. In a few cases, it worked out all right for them–they really enjoyed and felt fulfilled in their careers. Others, however, were subtly or actively dissatisfied with their situation and felt stuck.
What’s your situation? Are you happy with where you are? Did you choose to go there? It’s all about (or a lot about) the choices we make, the ones we don’t make, and the ones we have to pass up because they conflict with the ones we’ve made.
Look at the “Road Not Taken”
I recently ran across an article that referenced one of my favorite poems, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” The article, “The ‘road not taken’ resume” by John Read, made for some interesting reading. He talked about what your resume might look like if you put in all the choices you didn’t make at various decision points in your life rather than listing all your jobs and successes.
Of course, Read wasn’t seriously suggesting that you submit such an unorthodox resume to potential employers, but he felt that going through the exercise might in some way enhance your conventional resume. As he put it, “Not so long ago, jobs and careers could be for life. Now, in this more dynamic and unstable economy, employment security is non-existent and job changes are a part of everyone’s work experience. You don’t need to be approaching retirement for there to be an appreciable number of these forks in the road under your belt, and mapping backwards through the choices you’ve made can be instructive.”
No one can expect to go through life without choices, whether those were made consciously or by default. Maybe we should all be doing some backward-looking to find out what it can tell us about where we are now, how we got there and–if desired–where we’d really like to go next.