Part time workers have so much talent!

talking headsAn employer who recruited through Timewise Jobs gives their candid feedback – and their advice to candidates.

I recently advertised a job on Timewise Jobs – it was for a part-time Accounts Assistant, 3 days a week. We rarely advertise jobs on a part-time basis, so this was a new experience for us (our organisation is part of the British legal establishment).

I have to say, I was completely astounded by the volume of outstanding CVs that came in, and also by the huge diversity of backgrounds that applicants came from.

As I said, we rarely advertise part-time jobs, but this experience left me thinking: why didn’t we? It’s is a no-brainer, with such a wide and diverse candidate pool.

This is what happened...

Within a week of placing the job ad, we had received over 100 CVs. On paper, around 80% of the applicants had the experience and skills to do the job.

More surprising was the fact that around half the candidates were significantly over-qualified for the role. I even had 2 or 3 applications from people with stellar careers at leading companies, who could easily do my job as Finance Director, let alone a junior accounts role. One of these applicants called me, to assure me that she genuinely wanted the job, and request that I didn’t dismiss her application on the grounds of being over-qualified.

My sad reflection on all of this was just how hard it is for candidates who need to work part-time. So few jobs are advertised this way that competition for them is fierce. For most of the candidates we interviewed, finding a part-time arrangement was their first consideration. It was more important than salary or status. This didn’t mean they were lacking in ambition or the commitment to do a good job – it was simply the case that full-time work wasn’t an option for them. 

Our candidates had a range of different reasons for wanting part-time work – many were mothers with young children, but others were carers for sick or elderly relatives, one or two had long-term health conditions, some were studying, and a few wanted to balance a regular part-time job with other freelance commitments.

We interviewed 8 per cent of the candidates and, frankly, we could happily have given the job to any of them. We made our final choice based on cultural fit for the organisation.

So I will close with a message for candidates: don’t take it personally when you are ‘rejected’ for a part-time position. The competition is genuinely fierce and it is an unusual market. I’m sure that many candidates will feel they don’t stand a chance because they are competing with so many over-qualified people, while others will feel they are discriminated against because they are over-qualified. At the end of the day, employers will choose the successful candidate on a balance between ability to do the job and cultural fit. In such a competitive market, success will take longer and you have to persevere. But your day will come!   


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