The virtues of a part-time job

When you ask married mothers what their ideal work situation is, 47 percent say they want to work part-time, according to the Pew Research Center.

But working part-time -- whether you're married, single and everything in between -- can end up being well short of ideal if you get the wrong job. Companies that hire scores of part-time workers treat those people as if their entire lives belong to the company: no set schedule, no guaranteed number of hours, and even demanding that people be perpetually on "call." (The New York Times recently brought the ugly reality to life by looking at the impact of Starbucks' use of scheduling software on one part-time worker at the coffee chain.)

It doesn't have to be that way. Working part-time can be rewarding.

What kind of part time jobs are out there? Kari Journigan, writing at FlexJobs, compiled a list of 50 jobs that are currently advertising for part-time and at home jobs. While some might be what you expect, like taking inbound calls, others are things that used to be only done outside the home. such as teaching.

In today's Internet culture, for instance, lots of classes are offered online, and there's no reason why you need to be both full time and in an office in order to teach over a webcam or grade papers. It can be a dream come true for a lot of people, and especially moms.

There are caveats, of course. Unless you're regularly working 30 hours a week, a company isn't required to offer you health insurance. Additionally, you need to be clear on the difference between being a "part-time employee" and being a "part-time contractor." The latter means you have more flexibility in how you do your job, but it also means that you are responsible for all your employment taxes yourself. Keep that in mind when negotiating a salary.

How do you get one of these jobs? It's always best to network your way into a job. When you're at a job where you won't see your boss face to face, she's going to be more likely to hire you if you come with a strong reputation backing you up, and references the new boss trusts. Ideally, it's easiest to make the switch from full-time work to part-time by staying at the same company, where your skills are already known.

Additionally, make sure you don't treat a part-time job like a hobby. Especially when you work from home, your friends see your mini-van in the driveway and think, "Jane can watch my kids while I go to the gym!" It sometimes take re-educating your neighbors to understand that working from home requires just as much diligence and concentration as working in an office.

Candidates with the strongest resumes will be the ones most likely to get hired into the ideal position. Companies should also take note of the many people out there who would love to work part-time, and capitalize on that by offering professional positions with more flexible and part-time schedules.

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