Often you can find your “fit” not by doing less work, but by working differently. However, there may be certain work+life transitions that require you to reduce the hours you work and the amount of work you do for a period of time. The question then becomes, “How can I work ‘part-time’”? I’m going to share some strategies for making that shift in a way that considers your needs as well as the need of your job:
• Thinking of it as a “reduced schedule”
• Partnering with your current employer
• Using a “part-time” job placement company
Thinking of it as a “Reduced Schedule”
First, you need to define what you are trying to accomplish. What does working “part-time” mean to you exactly? It can mean working only a little bit less, while at other times it may mean a more drastic reduction in work.
Part-time can also be relative depending upon your industry, level in the organization, and type of job. For a lawyer who is used to working 80 hours a week, a 40 hour workweek is half of their former schedule, but full-time for others. I can remember the commentary about Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts’ wife’s 40 hour a week “part-time” schedule. The difference when compared to her previous schedule was probably great. But it doesn’t fit the standard definition of “part-time,” and yours might not either.
Think about what you are trying to accomplish by “reducing your schedule,” and start by looking at your current schedule. Figure out how you would need to change it to make your work and personal realities “fit.” The answer may not resemble the standard definition of part-time. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a period of time, ask yourself what your ideal schedule would be, considering your unique realities. It could be 30 hours a week, which is pretty close to full-time for many, or it could be as little as 10 hours a week.
ASK! Partnering with your current employer
Too often I see people assume that in order to achieve the reduced schedule they’ve envisioned, they need to find another job. That may be true in some instances (we will get to that in a minute). But before you quit, you should consider giving your current employer an opportunity to partner with you to find a mutually-beneficial solution.
Why is our first instinct that we have to quit? It’s due, in part, to our fear of “no.” In my presentations I’ll ask the audience, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you present a new work+life fit plan to your boss?” Without skipping a beat the audience will yell out, “say no!” Then, I ask, “Are you any worse off than when you started?” “No,” they respond. “Then why don’t you ask?” No one has a good answer to that one.
Too often I see people who have devoted enormous amounts of time and energy to a job simply quit when they experience a big work+life fit transition such as parenthood, eldercare, or retirement. They don’t give the organization that values their contribution the opportunity to help them reduce their schedule. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “There’s no way they are going to go for it,” and then their part-time proposal was approved, I’d be blogging full-time from the Bahamas.
We don’t give our employers the chance to meet us halfway. We don’t think they are really serious about flexibility, so we never ask. The worst thing that can happen is “no,” but more often then not a manager is thrilled to hold on to a good person in any capacity.
Get Help – Companies to Help You Find a Reduced Schedule Job
Now, let’s assume you do have to find your part-time job with another employer. Perhaps you asked, and despite your best efforts to present a well-thought out plan, the answer was “no.” (Assuming you are a valued employee, this answer makes no sense. But unfortunately there are still a few unenlightened managers and companies out there who just don’t get it. I wish them luck.) Or, you’ve left the workforce for a period of time. You want to get back in, but you don’t want to work full-time. Here are some resources that can help.
You’ve got to love capitalism. As the interest in reduced schedule jobs increases, companies are forming to help fill that need. Each one of the companies below offers reduced schedule opportunities to a unique segment of the job market—one offers project-based work, another works with MBAs only, while a third focuses on the placement of college-grads in local small and medium-sized companies.
Aquent Marketing Solutions— www.aquent.com
Aquent has a unique model, providing project-based or long-term contract work for marketing professionals at companies nationwide. So if you are a marketer and don’t want to work for one organization full-time, Aquent will place you in different companies on a project by project basis. Work on a lot of projects, or only a few. It’s up to you.
As evidence of its commitment to provide innovative flexible project-based work solutions, Aquent is underwriting a series of Work+Life Fit teleseminars I am conducting at the end of September for the alumni of the country’s top business schools.
Ivy Exec—www.ivyexec.com (Site to launch Oct. 1, 2006)
Ivy Exec, Inc. is a web-based resource for placing people in reduced schedule jobs. Ivy allows employers nationwide to post reduced schedule job opportunities online, prospective employees can search for them directly.
While Ivy’s ultimate goal is to serve individuals with a variety of advanced degrees, the current focus is on MBAs who graduated from the top 15 business schools. Ivy’s founder, Elena Bajic, a recent Columbia Business School who won the school’s prestigious entrepreneurial award for her business plan, says the company already has a sizeable database of job seekers, almost half of whom are men.
10 til 2™ www.tentiltwo.com
10 til 2 is a regionally-based agency that places college-educated men and women in jobs that allow them to, “get the kids on the bus in the morning, and be home when the bus arrives in the afternoon,” says founder, Liz Norwood. Because 10 to 2’s business model is to place local individuals with local small and medium-sized companies, they are beginning to franchise their model to individuals in other parts of the country. Currently primarily located in Colorado, they just opened their first franchise in Michigan, and have received hundreds of calls from people around the country looking for part-time jobs. If you are looking for a job in the Colorado area, or are interested in purchasing a franchise for your local area, give them a call.
If your current circumstances require you to do less work, there are countless ways to reduce your schedule while meeting your needs and the needs of your jobs. But you need to define exactly what “reducing your schedule” looks like. Then, for those of you who are already employed, it pays to try partnering with your company to find a mutually-beneficial solution. Sometimes I think we are too quick to assume it can’t or won’t happen. You will very likely be pleasantly surprised.
But what if you aren’t currently employed, or despite your best efforts the answer was “no?” The good news is that there are many different organizations out there that can help you find the reduced schedule job that matches your unique work+life “fit” today.
Let me know of any other resources you’ve found that can help you reduce your schedule to find your “fit.”! I’ll be sure to post them in the Resources section of my blog.