Over 25 million U.S. workers held part-time jobs in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), meaning that they worked fewer than 35 hours a week.
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 job offers them. Part-time workers include parents, students, retirees, and anyone who prefers a variable schedule.
What Is Part-Time Work?
“Part-time work” generally refers to scheduling, not the scope or duties of the job. Although the BLS defines part-time work as taking up fewer than 35 hours per week, the IRS sets the threshold at 30 hours per week.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more workers are responsible for offering health insurance to 95% of their workers who average 30 hours per week.
Types of Part-Time Jobs
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.
Decide on Your Work Goals
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.
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.
Be Ready to Explain
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.
Emphasize your flexibility and commitment. Employers will want to know that you’re available and ready to work, despite your other responsibilities.
Tips for Applying
Be ready to apply. 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. Be sure to bring all of your application materials, including supporting documentation like photo identification, work certificate if you’re a minor, and a copy of your resume. Prepare a list of references who have agreed to attest to your skill and professionalism.
Be prepared for an interview. The hiring manager may choose to interview you immediately. Practice answering sample questions with a friend or family member don't memorize potential responses, but certainly, be ready with some answers.
Dress appropriately. Choose neat and tidy clothes for your interview attire. 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).
Pay attention to grooming. 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.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Don’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.