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The elusive part-time dream job

Job hunting for a part-time role can be particularly challenging. Whatever your reason for wanting to work part-time (carer responsibilities, a side gig, or just wanting better work/life balance), finding a role that matches your skills and interests that is also part-time can be difficult.

If you only search for part-time roles you are likely to be looking for your dream job for a very long time. A much better method is to find your dream job, which is probably going to be advertised as a full-time role, then negotiate it down to part-time.

Many of my clients have used this method successfully, and I have also done this for my last four roles, negotiating full time roles down to 0.7 or 0.8 EFT.

So, how do you actually do this? When do you tell the prospective employer?


Option 1: Call to speak with them in advance and see if they will consider part-time applicants, or research the organisation online. Most public sector and many large private sector organisations are open to considering flexible work arrangements, and many have policies around this.

However, even in a flexible workplace, not all roles can be undertaken part-time, so I'm a fan of calling to ask. I once called up about a role and the manager was so adamant that the role had to be full-time (and frankly was rude about it!) that I didn't bother applying. This is also a good opportunity to ask any other questions you might have about the role.

Option 2: Mention in your cover letter that you are seeking a part-time role.

I like to be up front and usually put in my cover letter that, should I be the preferred applicant, I would like to negotiate a part-time working arrangement. However, I am in the minority on this approach! Most people don't want their application to be biased, so don't mention it in the cover letter. Which is fair enough. Why potentially disadvantage yourself? Most people prefer option 3...

Option 3: Raise it in the interview

Most of my clients will raise the issue of part-time/flexible work arrangements at the end of their job interview. This way they have shown the interview panel that they are the best person for the job, then advised that they would like to work part-time or in a job share. You need to be clear about your minimum/maximum days, and I think it's good to combine this method with Option 1 (calling up in advance to ask about flexible work arrangements).

By doing this you can say to the hiring manager something like this: "As I mentioned to you when I spoke with you on the phone, if I'm the successful applicant I would like to negotiate a part-time working arrangement. I would prefer to work 3 days a week, and could do 4 days a week maximum. I'd also be open to job sharing."

Option 4: Raise it when you receive a job offer

This is not my preferred approach, as I think it is best to be as up front as possible with a potential employer. Raising it this late in the process is bound to put the potential employer off-side, and make it more difficult for them to fill the role depending on the requirements. However, lots of people do it this way too, so up to you!

Option 5: Apply with a job share partner

Another thing to consider is finding a job share partner that you would like to work with, then you can apply for jobs together. You submit separate applications but note in your cover letter that you are applying jointly. This could be somebody that you know and have worked with already, or you can use matching websites such as Puffling to find a partner.


Whichever way you decide to go, you are much more likely to find a satisfying job that meets your criteria by considering jobs that are advertised full-time.

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