Is Working Part Time Holding Your Career Back? | Inspire to Freedom

Is Working Part Time Holding Your Career Back?

November 24, 2015 Jonny Lilley
sales-figures-1473495-640x480Image by Carl Dwyer

Part time work is often an excellent solution for parents. You get to enjoy a fulfilling career while also spending lots of quality time with your children. It certainly sounds like the best of both worlds… but is it?

In reality many part time workers feel that their shorter hours are stopping them from progressing in their career. The unfortunate truth is that part time workers can often be overlooked when it comes to promotions and additional responsibility.

The majority of people who choose to work part time are female, and it’s these people who are really suffering. Researcher Dr Tom Schuller has looked into this issue a great deal. He writes:

“I have had woman after woman describe how they suddenly became almost invisible once they ceased to work full-time – even if they had only gone down to three days a week. They are no longer considered as committed to their work in the same way and so not serious candidates for progression.”

Is there any good news here? 

So what about if you want to work part time at the same time as moving forward in your career? Is it possible?

The good news is: yes! It may be much harder to make an impact on your employers when you work part time, but it is possible.

There is some fantastic inspiration out there: it may surprise you to know that Marks and Spencer’s Style Director Belinda Earl works two days per week. Also make sure you take a look at this year’s Power Part Time List that showcases exemplary part time work in senior roles.

What can you do to stay ahead?

If you want to continue to move your career forward while working part time, you’ll have to be savvy about your working behaviour.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you stay in the loop: if important meetings are happening on your days off, make this clear to your line manager.
  • It’ll be more important than ever for you to be able to prove your successes: make sure you keep evidence whenever possible.
  • Don’t make it difficult for colleagues to know when you’ll be in: put your working days clearly in your email signature.
  • Make the effort to attend special occasions and social events: this is often when the real networking happens.
  • Remind senior staff what you’re offering: valuable expertise at a lower cost than a full time staff member.

But beware…

There is a danger that in trying to stay at the top of your game you’ll do so much overtime that you may as well be full time! You’re not being paid for your days off, so you may want to avoid doing work at home during them. If your colleagues are making you feel that this is necessary, it may be time to consider whether you’re in the right organisation.

The thing to remember here is that even if your organisation doesn’t favour part time staff… another one will. There could be far better opportunities out there. In fact there are many organisations who are actively on the hunt for talented part timers.

If you are struggling to find an organisation that will value you, there is another option. Starting your own business or going freelance would enable you to take total charge of your career, including how many days per week you want to work.

Sound interesting? Read our blog posts on starting a business.





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