Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How I Found My Part Time Jobs and the Power of Networking

Sharon of Musings of a Midlife Mom asked a question on one of my recent posts, " Where do you find your part time jobs?" It was a great question and definitely worth a post of its own - Thanks Sharon!

I found them through networking. Although, I got to tell you, I hate that term. In fact, I hate what networking has come to be. In the business world where I run, networking seems to mean these terribly awkward sessions of needy people sitting around tables flashing business cards and schmoozing up to other people they barely know. It's like speed dating with none of the long term glamorous romance. I am part of a couple of business groups and they all have "networking" sessions beforehand and I just hate it. It feels so.... slimy.

However, that is not to say that networking doesn't work, especially in its original intent. In fact, this article says that at least 60% of jobs are found through networking. By original intent, I mean simply getting out and telling people you know that you are looking for work. Putting the word out - talking to friends, family and neighbors about the kind of work you are looking for.

In this economy, I think it is easier to find small part time jobs than full time jobs. I don't have numbers to back this up, just gut feeling and personal experience. There are so many people out of work and companies keep laying more off all the time. The full time jobs are few and far between. However, that doesn't mean that companies aren't looking for a little part time help to fill in the gaps. They might need someone to answer phones a few hours a week, or give a hand at month end when the accounting department goes into high gear. They might need someone for a small project or to fill in when a regular staff member is sick. And the best way to find these jobs is to talk to people.

After all, these aren't the kinds of jobs that are usually advertised...

These are the jobs that are given to friends, kids, spouses and neighbors of another co-worker. Hiring someone is expensive - there is all the cost of advertising, then the time and energy of sorting through resumes, having interviews, making selections. I've done it. It is a huge investment of time and energy. Who wants to do all that for someone who will be coming in to help file for 4 hours a week? It is so much easier and faster to hire someone that someone already knows. Besides, there is a unwritten high level of expectation you have when you hire someone like that - they want to do well for their friend and their friend wants to make sure they do a good job, since they recommended them. It usually works out well.

I have several little part time jobs, all with very limited time frames. For example, I might have a two week period where I can pick up 4 shifts, or another one of my jobs offers me three weeks a year where I work 20+ hours. I got them by asking friends and letting them know I was looking for work. In one case it was a job I had done before and left; I heard that they might need help again and asked my old coworker if she could use me.

In my case, my jobs all came a direct result of people I am good friends with, however, I have heard that it is far more likely that the jobs will come in from a distant acquaintance or a friend of a friend. In other words, you tell all your friends and family that you are looking for an 8 hour a week office job, even knowing that they don't have any work available. But, your aunt files it away in the back of her mind and then when she is sitting next to her friend at church who is starting up her own business and could use a little office help, she thinks of you.

One suggestion - know what you want and how many hours you can work before you get into this. This is especially true if you are doing the part time job along with another full time job or have a family. The goal should be to add to your income - not burn yourself out. Frugal Dad wrote an article about this today that is well worth reading. You don't want to get into something you can't handle - saying you'll do "anything" means you could end up in something you hate, which will just add stress to your life and embarrass your friend when you quit. Also, having a plan makes it more memorable. Saying, "I'd love to find a small retail job on the weekends" is easier for people to help you with than "I need to make some extra money." Hey - who doesn't?

I've been very fortunate in my work. It is true that I do occasionally have some very busy months... and very slow ones like this month, but the type of work and the hours work well alongside my full time job. Anyone else out there working a part time job? How did you find it? What are your tips for success?

Photo by: caffeina

1 comment:

Bouncing Back said...

Awesome post! I got my weekend job the very same way. Someone knew me and knew my skills and I ended up with an offer and a job.

Like you said, even just telling/letting people know that you are available for work is a good step. You just never know who is filing your comment away for future reference.