What Is the Best Way to Apply for a Part-Time Position?

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Many employers find it more convenient to hire part-time rather than full-time workers, and many employees appreciate the flexibility that a part-time work schedule offers them. 

What Is 'Part-Time Work'?

Part-time work” generally refers to scheduling, not the scope or duties of the job. Many retail or warehouse positions are part-time, but these jobs make up just a portion of all part-time jobs. Just about any job can be done on a part-time schedule, including high-level or professional positions. There are part-time marketing directors, accountants, attorneys, truck drivers, nonprofit leaders, nurses, teachers, production line workers, software programmers, lobbyists, carpenters, sales representatives, and more.

Defining your work goals is important because part-time positions may not be advertised. Determine what kind of work you want to do and then identify the companies that could likely use your services. You may need to reach out directly to employers who may not be advertising for part-time help.

Be prepared to explain to the prospective employer why you want a part-time work schedule: You might have other responsibilities (such as school or caretaking), or you need to ramp down from a full-time schedule. 

Basic Rules for Applying

The application process for part-time work may be slightly different than for full-time work; you'll often fill out the application in person on the spot. You should dress in neat and tidy clothes. Business casual is usually appropriate. For example, khakis and a neat polo shirt would work well. No jeans or shorts, tank tops, crop tops, or anything, especially low-cut (shirt or pants) or short (skirt). "Muffin top" jeans or khakis, with your belly showing, should also be on your list of what not to wear when applying for a part-time job.

Make sure your hair and fingernails are well groomed. Extreme hairstyles or colors aren't going to help you get a job. Wear moderate shoes, not spiked heels, platforms, flip flops, or dirty old sneakers. If you have multiple piercings, you might want to consider removing some of them while you are job searching.

Information You Need to Fill Out an Application

Print out a sample job application so that you know what information you'll need to know while applying for a job. If you have a resume, bring copies with you.

Here is a list of potential application questions:

  • Schools and dates attended
  • Names and addresses of previous employers, if you have worked before
  • Dates of previous employment
  • References (can be neighbors or teachers)
  • Resume (if you have one)

Although you should probably be clear from the beginning that you’re seeking a partial work schedule, it’s not necessary to specify the hours you want to work. You can leave that to the negotiation stage, once you and the manager have determined that you’re interested in each other.

Speaking of negotiation, you shouldn't assume that you won't receive benefits if you work part-time. Some companies do offer full benefits to part-time workers, while others pro-rate their packages according to the hours worked. If benefits are important to you, take the time to identify which ones you care about most. And if you don’t need, or can’t get, benefits from your part-time employer, try to compensate by negotiating a pay increase.

Be prepared for a brief on-the-spot interview. Practice answering sample questions with a friend or family member don't memorize potential responses, but certainly, be ready with some answers.

Part-time work is a vital part of any economy, and you may become a vital part of your potential employer's operations. Prepare as much as you can for your application and interview.