Show proof you'll be worth shift to full time

| Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011

It used to be that part-time jobs went to students who were looking for some income while going to school. Or such jobs were filled by those nearing retirement who wanted to cut back on their hours but still earn some money to pad their nest eggs.

Now, part-time jobs are highly competitive. Full-timers who have lost their jobs are standing in line for hours to apply for part-time positions. Competition for seasonal jobs with companies that will begin hiring soon is expected to be keen as the national jobless rate continues to hover near 9 percent.

But for those used to full-time work, the part-time gig can be frustrating. While they're pleased to be earning a paycheck, they may have to cobble together two -- or even three -- part-time jobs just to support their families. At the same time, many part-time jobs offer few or no benefits.

So, how do you get an employer to make a part-time position a full-time opportunity• Experts say it comes down to proving to the employer that you're worth the extra money it will take to increase your hours and offer benefits.

Eileen Lewis Habelow, senior vice president of organizational development at Randstad, says that the key for part-time workers "is behaving just as full-time workers do."

"That means if they come in early, that's what you do. If they stay late, that's what you do," she said. "Whether you're a temporary or a part-timer, act like the employee status you want to be."

Sharlyn Lauby, author of the HR Bartender blog, says that she believes part-timers can't just do their jobs and expect to get an offer of full-time work.

"Step away from your job and put on the shoes of the company president for a minute," she suggests. "Think about how there is a certain amount of work out there. To give someone a full-time position, there's got to be some kind of return on the dollars you will spend. This isn't just about a 'break even' return."

Lauby says the key to such an exercise is understanding that you must make a business case for making you a full-time employee. "Think like a business owner. Don't just consider the salary. Think about what the total cost will be to give you a total benefits package," she said. "Think about what you can bring to the table, and make sure it relates to what the company wants."

For example, if the company wants to branch out into social networking and you've been using such networks and can demonstrate some expertise, it might net you a full-time offer. Or, if you've fully researched a new market and can explain to your boss how to bring in new customers and business, that might be worth a full-time offer.

Habelow says that the point isn't to grab extra work just for the sake of earning more money. The key, she says, is to be more strategic in taking on tasks that will help you demonstrate your value or skills. "Take the initiative. Volunteer for projects where you can show your expertise," she says.

Habelow and Lauby say they always advise job seekers not to turn down a part-time offer because they fear it will be a step down in their careers.

"I think it always looks better to an employer when you're working," Habelow says. "And honestly, I've never asked someone if the job on their resume was part time or full time. Most employers understand what's going on economically and realize that more people are unemployed or underemployed."

Lauby says a part-time job still demonstrates that others believe you are worth the investment, and gives you time to pursue more training or additional skills.

Habelow agrees. "If you're in an interview for a full-time job and you hear about a skill that you don't have and it's keeping you from getting the job, then now is the time to get it since you have time on your hands," she says.

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