Part-Time or Full-Time Employment: What’s Best for You?

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.

Two Ways to Do Your Resume: DIY & HAE

Boiled down to its simplest level, you have two ways to create or revamp your resume: Do It Yourself (DIY) or Hire An Expert (HAE). Since my profession is resume writing, you might guess I’m not going to tell you you should always do your own resume, but I will say that sometimes “it depends.”

Having made my disclosure about possibly not being 100% impartial, I’ll still do my best to give an unbiased view of the two ways you can choose to do your resume.

Write Your Own Resume (DIY)

In some ways, you know yourself better than anyone else does. That means that, theoretically at least, you’re the one who should be most familiar with your strengths, skills, achievements and so on–the elements that will form the basis of your resume.

Here are a few questions you should be able to say yes to if you plan to write your own resume:

  1. Do I have strong writing skills?
  2. Do I have a clear target or direction I want to pursue?
  3. Can I take an objective look at my current situation and identify what I need to do to move forward?
  4. Am I up on how things are done these days? If not, can I spend the time to get up to date on them?
  5. Do I know what to do next after I get my resume finished?

Hire An Expert Resume Writer (HAE)

For some people, hiring experts to do things they don’t have the expertise, time or interest to do for themselves is a no-brainer. They consider it a good investment in themselves and don’t need other reasons.

However, you might be one of those job seekers who either believe you should do your own resume or feel you need to save your money for other (“more important”) purposes. That’s fine, if it works for you. On the other hand, you might want to think about one or more of the following:

  1. You might be very good at what you do for a living–whether it’s sales, operations, or some other role–and know what it takes to be successful in your job. However, do you know how to communicate your value in that role to potential employers?
    Knowing how to DO the work and knowing how to communicate your value in doing it are two different things.
  2. Employment and job search trends seem to change constantly. Keeping as up to date on them as possible is a critical element of a successful job search. That means it’s critical for your resume.
    For instance, how much do you know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)? Do your resume and your LinkedIn profile work well together?
  3. Well-qualified resume writers can bring an emotional distance that allows them to see important aspects of your situation that you might be too close to. That doesn’t mean they’re disinterested in the outcome–far from it; but they can look at the situation objectively.

How Do You Choose Which Way to Do Your Resume?

No answer is perfect for the entire population, and ultimately no one can decide the answer to this question but you. You’re the one who has the most at stake.

You can, however, consult with people whose opinion you value and give some consideration to their input. In addition, you can do some research into various options and try to evaluate them with regard to your needs and goals.

If you choose to hire an expert resume writer, just make sure the person is reputable and not a fly-by-night operation or a resume mill that churns out $50-$100 resumes on an assembly line. I don’t know any professional resume writer who will come close to doing that!

Toxic Work Environments

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about toxic work situations–including toxic bosses. However, it was prompted by a recent comment from a new client that was fairly disturbing.

He indicated that even though he’d had a successful record over the past three years, he was very concerned about the situation in his company. Many people had quit, including his last two bosses, and a number of others had been fired.

He felt strongly that the company’s culture was fear-based (using fear as a tactic), which had not only created a toxic work environment but also resulted in an abnormally high attrition rate. He found the whole situation alarming, and I don’t blame him.

Are You in a Toxic Work Environment?

So how do you determine if you’re currently in a toxic work environment? Of course, there could be obvious signs, such as managers who regularly scream and rant at their subordinates. If you’ve found yourself subjected to that type of inexcusable treatment, you might already have started taking steps to move out.

On the other hand, you might be in a work environment where the toxicity is less obvious but potentially just as damaging to your career and personal well-being. For example, your boss might be the kind of person who leads you on with promises of a reward if you accomplish an important assignment and then consistently “forgets” the promise or denies having made it.

To assess your work environment toxicity, you need to start by keeping a record of key events and their related circumstances. Then plan to review it periodically. This will help you evaluate situations a little more objectively than you might be able to do in the heat of the moment (when you’re in the middle of a situation).

Toxic Work Environments–Stay or Go

This is also something I’ve written about before–deciding whether to look for a way out or stay where you are and work (or hope) for some kind of acceptable resolution of the situation.

If, as appears might be the case for my new client, the entire company constitutes a toxic work environment, you probably need to consider one critical fact. Either senior management is directly the cause of the mess or they are at least not doing anything (or not nearly enough) to correct it.

In such cases, you might not have a choice. You either bail at your earliest opportunity or you resign yourself to living with imminent disaster–professionally, personally or both.

Occasionally you might face a situation where it’s just your department/boss that’s the source of the toxicity. That offers you a potential solution that doesn’t involve leaving the company altogether. For instance, if you can take advantage of an opportunity to make a good career move into a different department, you might achieve a win-win outcome.

Toxic Work Environments and Work-Related Stress

Workplace toxicity and job stress are tightly linked. To quote from an article titled “Chronic Job Stress is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease” by Elizabeth Scott, M.S., “Job stress is widely experienced, and so pervasive that it’s been found to affect people from all industries, ranks and socio-economic status levels. And because so much of our lives are spent at work, job stress can create stress in other areas of life as well….Because of a close link between job stress and chronic stress, job stress can take a significant toll on overall health and wellness….”

Clearly, you need to be alert for indications of a toxic work environment and do your best to (ideally) avoid getting into one or (next-best) remove yourself from it ASAP.

Your Career Roadmap

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.