Brainstorming: nosce te ipsum


Why do you want to work part-time? Is it so you will have more time for friends and family? More time for a creative pursuit? Do you need time to explore volunteer options for a career change? Do you want to go back to school? Maybe you were downsized and had no choice or an illness is keeping you from full-time work? The list of reasons why people want to – or have to – work part-time are probably as long as there are people! Still, you should do some prep work before jumping into the fray and the first step of this preparation should be a brainstorming exercise. You should sit down and think – and I really mean THINK – about how part-time work will affect your life both positively and negatively. To get you started, here are some questions and considerations you will need to explore as honestly as possible:

1 – Why part-time? State the obvious here whether or not it is a selfish reason or an altruistic one. Be realistic about your goals or your limitations. The answer to this question will direct the answers to other questions.

2 – What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you can’t lift a heavy box, you will need to avoid applying for any jobs with that requirement. If you aren’t a morning person, chances are a 5am paper route won’t be for you. If you can’t stand unpredictability, going the temp route may be too draining for you.

3 – Skills. Given your education and background, what types of jobs can you reasonably expect to get? My career has been mostly in communications and administration but I have a degree in psychology and am extremely technically proficient. So given that background I have been able to work my resume in way that opens up the doors to decent-paying contracts in the public sector.

4 – What are your limitations? If you have childcare demands or medical issues you will have to take these into consideration when looking for positions. I have been lucky enough to have excellent and decently-priced childcare available in my neighbourhood. Someone who doesn’t have those options may have to limit the work they can apply for.

5 – Type. What kind of part-time do you think you would enjoy? A permanent part-time job is a bit of the unicorn of the working world but is still a laudable goal. I like the full-time contract for a set period of time which allows me the opportunity to take entire swaths of time off and to also plan for child care.

6 – Finances. What salary expectations do you have and what do you need? You should give yourself a low number and a high number and aim to compare the salary up against other benefits of taking a job such as location and hours. You should also have a budget in place to project what you reasonably need to live.

7 – Location. how far will you go? Everyone has their limits such as how far they are willing to commute, whether or not you own a car etc. If you are relying on public transportation the areas that aren’t serviced by the bus system may be too challenging.

8 – Grooming expectations. if you work in a customer-facing environment you may need to wear make-up or own a selection of business suits. If you work in an IT environment, the expected dress code will be a lot more low-key. You will need to consider the extra time and money.

9 – Benefits. If you do not have benefits already or have to work full time in your current position to receive benefits, that could potentially be the biggest limitation.

10 – Dreams. How do you see yourself in the future? Is part-time work a stepping stone to something bigger in your life? Where do you see yourself in one year, three years and five years?

These teaser questions are a good basis for you to start your own brainstorming session. As the ancient Greeks would say, nosce te ipsum – know thyself. You may go through this exercise and determine that part-time work is just not viable for you at this point in time. That’s ok, too! You may be financially behind at this period in your life and have too many expenses. You may also discover that you are very much tied to your identify as a full-time employee and aren’t quite ready to make the leap. The purpose of this exploration is to put together a concrete document to use as a mirror so you can see the reality of your situation. It’s not about judgment or beating yourself up but instead it’s about creating a starting point from where all other decisions will stem. I recommend you take some time to work through these questions and also to think about other questions that may be relevant. Who knows what you could possibly discover or where it will lead you?