Dear Annie: This is probably a ridiculous question, but your column last month about temp work got me thinking. Is there such a thing as a part-time job (say, 20 or 30 hours a week) I can do from home or while traveling, without having to pay my dues in a 9-to-5 office setting first? I am fluent in four languages, with a bachelor’s degree in Russian and French, and have worked as a translator since I graduated from college eight years ago. So far, I’ve had two part-time jobs in person and one where I worked full-time but telecommuted from my home office. Now I have so many non-work projects going — including co-founding a nonprofit food bank and raising twins — that I’d really like to find a part-time telecommuting job. But do they exist, or should I not waste time looking? — Just Jeanne-Marie
Dear J.J.: You’ll be happy to hear that not only do part-time telecommuting jobs exist but there seem to be more and more of them available. Even better for your purposes, part-time interpreters and translators who work remotely are among the types of employees most in demand, according to career site FlexJobs, along with teachers, writers, editors, coders, speech pathologists, customer service reps, and project managers.
The number of part-time telecommuting positions posted in FlexJobs’ database jumped 31% from 2014 to 2015, which inspired the site to make a list of the companies now doing the most hiring. Some are household names, like Xerox, Hilton International, About.com, and Rosetta Stone. Working from home part-time is “a very appealing arrangement for all types of groups, including working parents and semi-retired Boomers, because it’s so flexible,” says Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs’ CEO.
The popularity of these jobs is growing among Millennials like you, who don’t want to be tied down to a cubicle or to a full-time schedule. Contrary to a persistent stereotype, most (62%) part-time employees in the U.S. are working reduced hours by choice, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports — not because they can’t find full-time work.
In a 2015 FlexJobs survey, Millennials gave a list of reasons they prefer part-time jobs, which included spending more “quality time” with loved ones (55%); pursuing a creative passion like music, art, or video (39%); travel (38%); going back to school (32%); volunteering (29%); and taking care of one or more children (29%). It’s worth noting that most were willing to live frugally to get by on a part-time paycheck. About two-thirds (65%) said they were “confident” they could cover their living expenses by working part-time, while 24% said they hoped they could “but it will be close.” About half (49%) cited “spouse’s income” as a big reason they could afford to limit their own hours.
In this as in so much else, Millennials may be leading the way, with older coworkers not far behind them. Note to employers: 54% of 1,000 U.S. full-time workers of all ages “would leave their current full-time positions or scale back to part-time if given the opportunity,” according to a survey last November by online recruiting platform Recruitifi. Almost 40% said they are “more willing to consider part-time work than in the past” because of the flexibility it offers. Many respondents (45%) said they’d rather have more “work-life balance” than more money, a change from previous polls that the study referred to as “a seismic shift.”
But back to all those companies on the FlexJobs list that are seeking part-time telecommuters: What exactly are they hoping to see in job candidates? “Employers have told us they favor applications that show self-discipline and motivation, time and task management, and experience with working independently,” says Sutton Fell. People who, like you, have experience working remotely should highlight that, she adds. “Include a ‘Remote Work Experience’ section at or near the top of your resume.”
One more thought: What if you later decide you want to work full-time again, whether in person or remotely? The stigma that used to be assigned to a part-time stint on a resume may not be entirely gone yet, but Sutton Fell says it’s fading fast. “It’s become much more common recently to see resumes with a mix of job experience — some as a regular employee, some freelance, some part-time, some full-time,” she says. “The way you describe what you did part-time doesn’t have to be any different from how you’d sum up a full-time job. Employers care more about skills and accomplishments than they care about work schedules.”
Talkback: If you’re working full-time now, would you voluntarily work fewer hours (assuming you could afford to)? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.
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