Dear Sam: I am seeking advice about applying for a higher education job. I have the experience and education required for the position. The ad for the job does not specify full-time or part-time, so I assume it is a full-time role. The position appeals to me, and I feel I could be an asset to the school, but I only want to work part-time hours.
If I apply for the position, should I mention the possibility of either part-time hours—or job sharing—in a cover letter or wait until I get contacted for an interview? Alternatively, should I forget the entire thing and apply only for positions advertised as part-time? – Rick
Dear Rick: Great question! I recommend waiting until interest has been established in you as a candidate before you start negotiating terms of employment. If the position is full-time, an employer could still see something in you that they do not find in candidates seeking full-time employment, hence there may be some “wiggle room” in the position’s structure, hours, compensation, etc. So, I would wait until you are interviewing and moving along in the process to mention the terms you prefer.
Now, if asked directly about your preference as to part- vs. full-time, you should, of course, be honest, but I would not offer your employment preferences until you feel it is time to negotiate the terms of your employment. If only searching for part-time roles, you will find that your choices will be significantly diminished. However, more positions than you would expect have room for negotiation, so it is likely you could strike the work-life balance you seek even in a full-time role. Keep your options open and wait until interest has been established, then open discussions on possible working structures that would be mutually agreeable. Best of luck!
Dear Sam: I have a certain level of paranoia regarding securing and retaining my job. I know I am supposed to update my resume frequently to avoid being unprepared for a sudden, unexpected departure, but what else can or should I do to protect myself? – Christian
Dear Christian: I applaud your efforts to be prepared. All too often, I speak with candidates who were blindsided by layoffs and have little or no documentation from their careers. In addition to keeping records of your performance every month or two, be sure you log accomplishments or special projects. Not only can this facilitate the resume development process, but it can also help tremendously when preparing for your annual review.
Speaking of reviews, if you can save a copy of them, that would be great too. Often reviews contain strong comments on your performance, comments that can be used directly on your resume. At the very least, keeping your reviews documents your efforts if you become a victim of a sticky situation at work. This could be a layoff or simply an unflattering supervisor, so hanging onto documents that record strong performance is important.
You should also build and maintain your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to turn off activity feeds on your LinkedIn settings—if you are performing a major update—as you would likely not want anyone you are connected to with your current employer to know you are that active in updating your profile. By performing routine updates, you will continue to refresh your profile and facilitate the opportunity for potential employers to find you. Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn so that you are not caught needing those third-party validations all at once while navigating an unexpected job search.