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.

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