Part-Time Work Or Full-Time? …
In A Field That Isn’t Really What You Want?
In A Field That Isn’t Really What You Want?
The economy being what it is these days, with job searches stretching out for many people, sometimes unbearably, the question that often comes up during our coaching sessions is to whether the client should:
(a) take a part-time job,
(b) a full-time job, or
(c) tough it out until they land the job they really want and are suited for?
In one recent article I read, it flatly stated that, yes, a job-seeker should take a second job, without any question.
This article suggested working in an amusement park, since it’s summer, on the assumption that such jobs were open and unfilled, or something similar … and my guess is that it was how unequivocal this suggestion was that startled me and started me thinking about how I coach people to understand what might work for them when their searches seem to be taking far longer than anticipated. In short, the subject, I believe, isn’t that simple and needs some thought before dashing off in desperation to find some kind, any kind, of job.
First off, let me state that I believe there is one situation in which any type of job, part-time or full-time, should be taken, always, without question. That is when the client (or job-seeker) really needs the money to live on. There is no doubt in my mind about it. Survival comes first. If you have to be a dishwasher or a cab driver or an amusement park attendant to pay the bills and put bread on your table, yes, take that job and continue looking for the type of job that your background, abilities and education qualify you for at the salary level you feel you’re suited for and worth.
But it gets more muddy when you’re not on the thin edge, when the search has begun to stretch and stretch and stretch, when you feel the old ennui, when it seems like a dry period and you begin to wonder if it might not be preferable to work at something manual or mundane, just to get out there again and rub shoulders with other people and get some kind of check at the end of the week.
What are the downsides and upsides of doing this?
• It can feel like a “giving up”.
• You can begin to believe that there are indeed no jobs of the type that you’re fit for out there any more, and then that you’re taking two (or more) steps backward. This certainly isn’t good for your ego or morale, if you begin to feel that way.
• Then there’s also the fact that a full-time job (and, often a part-time job) does use up considerable energy, which doesn’t leave much time for job-hunting at the same time. My observation is that people who take a job just to keep themselves working often slack off on their job-hunting efforts and, thereby, decrease their chances of finding something new.
• Be aware that, if you’re receiving unemployment, you can also lose those benefits (or at least decrease them) by taking new employment. It’s a good idea to check with your state department to check this out beforehand, because very few people want to lose or decrease their unemployment benefits.
What are the upsides?
• Having a place to go every day and a reason to get up every morning and get out of bed. Getting out of the house, in other words.
• Keeping the emotional machinery going.
• Being among other people again during the day in a work environment.
• Feeling good about earning money for your efforts.
• Heightening the dynamic so you feel more motivated to continue putting out effort in your search for your “real” job.
• If it’s a “no brainer” job, very different from your previous job, it can be refreshing. One person I coached, for example, took a job as a cab driver at night, while he continued his search for a position in Corporate Real Estate Development as location scout who determined where new stores would be built, and it didn’t drain much of his energy because driving a cab was easy for him. (In this case he made more than his unemployment would have paid.) Or, as another example, it could be a physical job, such as Aerobics Instructor, very different from, say, a the brain-work and people-interaction required of a Director of PR.
There is a third alternative, however, and that is to find something that corresponds to what you were doing before you were laid off. You might try being a consultant in your own field, using your accumulated expertise, for example. Some of my clients have been successful ing that. This can make sense in terms of putting something on your resume that indicates you haven’t been unemployed during the time you were laid off, but it needs to contain something substantial to be credible.
Another rather creative approach might be what a client and I strategized and came up with after she’d had a series of interviews after which the jobs she’d gone for had had their funding withdrawn. Rather than letting her get discouraged, I worked on it with her, and she then wrote short letter proposals to those companies, suggesting they might still have a need for her services on a contractual basis to work on the highest priority projects they’d discussed which probably hadn’t gone away as the funding had. She got a response from one company, negotiated an assignment, and worked part-time on their project.
What was really interesting about this was that (a) she ended up getting paid relatively well, (b) she was learning something new in terms of content and in terms of writing for a website distributed to employees, and (c) of course she was “working.” What really made it interesting, and a positive experience, was that as a result of this strategy, when a position did open up and she went to interview for it, the new experience made her the prime candidate, because she had been updating her skills in a new area of great interest to that employer.
Well, those are some of the alternatives, as I see them. There are more, and it’s worth expending energy on coming up with them. As you might infer, I tend to coach people to maximize their job-hunting strategy and their efforts so they pay off, rather than just doing something for the sake of doing it.