How part-time jobs help with career progression
Will a part-time job help you develop and evidence a range of skills that will make you more attractive to employers and kick-start your career? And is any part-time job better than none?
CareerHQ’s observations and research suggests the following:
Start working out what you enjoy doing
If you are an undergraduate, it can be a bit tricky adjusting to a tertiary learning environment, making new friends, and perhaps living out of home for the first time. So maybe the last thing you want to add into the mix is a part-time job.
However, apart from the monetary benefits, the first thing that part-time jobs can help you to start working out is what you enjoy doing. You might find that you like interacting with customers, working with numbers or solving problems in innovative ways. This can give you a better idea of what some of your strengths are – and perhaps also what you don’t enjoy doing.
Skills to make you ‘employable’
Just gaining a part-time role, and performing it successfully tells a potential employer that you can be self-motivated, punctual and reliable. Employers are more likely to look favourably on you when you can demonstrate skills such as time-management through juggling all your commitments (and keeping them!)
As an example, many undergraduate students are able to get part-time work in the fast food industry while they study. We know from speaking with people involved recruiting graduates that it’s more often ‘soft’ skills than simply qualification that they are looking for in new recruits these days.
Here’s what what one graduate recruitment manager had to say:
“One of our company’s core values is excellent customer service. As a student, you are more likely to be able to demonstrate this skill through work experience in the fast food industry rather than doing tutoring, for sample. It’s important to understand the sorts of skills you might need as you look to join the workforce as a graduate – skills such as teamwork, communication and problem-solving – and how you are able to gain these through your part-time work.”
Start in an entry level role
One way that a part-time job can potentially give you a better head start in your career is if you choose an industry where you might want to work, and start in an entry level role.
Let’s say you want to work in retail, and you think you would enjoy marketing and sales roles. There are a broad range of part-time and casual roles available in retail – and the flexibility to work a range of hours that would fit in around study or other commitments. By working on a sales counter, you could quickly come to understand the customer demographic, and gain skills in customer service, problem-solving and communication. By also networking with colleagues, you could learn about the range of roles in the company.
Read about the company in the press, and follow them on social media. See if there are any internal briefings or training programs you can attend. You will start to build up a range of skills and knowledge to apply for more senior roles as they become available – which may be the start of your great career in retail.
Can your part-time passion become your career?
I remember once being advised – “Find two things that you love doing in life – do one as your day job (maybe the one that pays more!), and keep the other as your passion. One day you might be lucky to be able to be able to turn that passion into a job.”
So, say, for example, that you enjoy writing, but you need to develop your skills. You also have bills and a new mortgage to take care of, and you need to make sure you get some money saved. While you work in another job that pays reasonable money you could also be undertaking part-time work refining your writing skills. You might be able to get some online contracts to write web content, for example. And once you have some experience, and have built up these skills, you can add them to your resumé and start applying for full-time writing and similar roles that allow your passion to also be your career.
Whether a part-time job gives you the ‘soft’ skills that employers are looking for in new graduates, or is something you take on in pursuit of a life-long passion, any part-time job which helps you develop the range of skills you need to be attractive to your target employer group is better than none!
Taking a part-time job or jobs which helps you develop and evidence work experience and the ‘soft skills’ that employers are now looking for will likely help you significantly when you apply for entry level jobs. And doing any part-time job is generally going to be more helpful than not.