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Why Part-Time Employment Might Be a Good Option

Finding a job can be a long and tedious process, and many candidates are still searching for the perfect position. But, as of August 2010, for about 28 million people in this country, the answer to employment has been in part-time work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a part-time job is any position that requires less than 35 hours of work per week. Though part-time employees may work slightly less than their full position counterparts (and therefore earn slightly less), they still receive an income, which is obviously important in this economy.

Depending on the type of work, part-time positions can offer good wages, opportunities for advancement, and even benefits. (As with any job, compensation for part-time work varies widely, from minimum wage to much more, depending on the job and skill required). Because fewer hours are required, these jobs can be particularly good choices for people who have to care for children, tend to elderly parents, or simply require more non-working hours in their schedules. If you are considering part-time work, here are five suggestions for success.

Part-time job hunting is similar to full-time searching
To find reduced-hours work, look in all the places you would search for regular employment, such as Internet job search engines, career forums, and classified ads. In addition, advise everyone you know that you're searching, and take advantage of social media sites, such as LinkedIn.com. With one status update, you can reach all of your connected friends to let them know about your job search preference, and they could easily put you in touch with their contacts, too. For more information on how to connect with your friends and associates to find a job, read our article on the Art of Networking.

Create a resume that highlights your experience in your desired field. Be sure to list special skills that hiring managers might appreciate. For example, are you hoping to land a call center position? Then highlight the fact that you can speak multiple languages fluently, or that you have experience giving speeches to groups of people. (A recent Monster.com article mentions that along with call center jobs, the top industries for part-time work are retail, hospitality, healthcare, education and delivery services.)

Though your search will resemble that of a full-time job seeker, you can still take advantage of resources that cater almost exclusively to temporary or part-time candidates. For example, SnagAJob.com lets you easily find out which employers in your area are hiring for hourly wages. Local temporary agencies may also be able to place you in a professional part-time job with a company.

You can still advance your career
In a down economy, many businesses may only have budgets that allow them to hire part-time help. However, the jobs they offer can still provide workers with experience and the contacts they'll need to expand their networks. For example, if you accept a position as a part-time nurse, you could still learn about the latest patient care technology and newest healthcare trends. You'd be able to add that part-time experience to your resume, and you'd likely have a competitive advantage over other candidates for future full-time positions. (For more advice on resume-building and other job search tips, read our article on 10 Strategies for Today's Job Seekers.)

Different types of pay
When it comes to compensation, some positions offer a set salary, just as with a full-time job. However, a large number of part-time jobs will pay an hourly wage instead. You clock in, clock out, and get paid for the work in between. Some part-time jobs are based on a contract, and you would be paid once a project is complete. This type of pay structure is typically the norm for an independent contractor, meaning someone who starts their own business (whether it's part-time or not). Examples of contract work may include landscaping jobs or virtual assistant services.

Unemployment benefits may be affected
If you are currently collecting unemployment compensation, check with your state employment commission before accepting a part-time job. Laws vary by state, but generally, unemployment compensation will cease if a worker earns too much money, even if it's from part-time work. In Maryland, for example, the income cap is currently at just under 400 dollars a week.

Even if you don't earn more than the cap, benefits may gradually decrease as your income increases beyond certain levels. Make sure you understand how future compensation will affect your personal situation. For more information about unemployment insurance and other related topics, read the CareOne Life Stages article: Losing Your Job.

Be wary of "scams"
As you are looking for a job, you will undoubtedly find claims of "work at home" employment, too-good-to-be-true opportunities, or even get-rich-quick offers among the job listings. These companies might require an upfront payment, and you will have no guarantee that you can recoup your investment, much less make any income.

The best advice is to research all potential employers thoroughly before applying for a job. Input company names in Internet search engines to see if there are critical postings about them. Contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been made against the companies you're pursuing. If any red flags pop up for you, it's best to move on to another potential employer. There are several other legitimate companies out there that can offer steady, reliable work.

Finding a job that requires less than 35 hours of work a week, whether temporary or permanent, can be much easier than finding a full-time position. If you treat your job hunt with professionalism, commit to networking, and research potential employers, you could be rewarded with a satisfying, good-paying part-time job.

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