How to talk about part-time in the application process
When you come across a brilliant job that’s advertised as being part-time or flexible, it can be tempting to make flex the focus of your application. But that’s not going to make you stand out as the best person for the job.
The chances are that everyone who applies will love the idea of working part time or flexibly as much as you do – and your potential employer is unlikely to care why. What they really want to hear about is the skills, experience and drive that make you right for the role, not the other way around.
Here’s some advice on how to give yourself the best chance when applying for a part-time job (the same principles apply for other kinds of flexibility):
1. Focus on your skills and experience
Approach your application in the same way you would for a full-time role. Your CV should highlight your relevant skills and experience, and your covering letter should pinpoint what you will bring to the role and how you will make a success of it.
Make sure you tailor your application to the role and showcase the attributes they are looking for.
2. Mention the part-time issue briefly, if at all
If you think it would be helpful to cover off the fact that you’re happy to work part time, you can do so – but limit it to a line towards the end of your covering letter. It’s not something that should be mentioned in your CV at all. Ever.
3. Don’t make it the focus of your interview
As with a covering letter, the main point of an interview is to sell your skills and experience, and persuade the potential employer that you’ll do a fantastic job. Once you feel you’ve done that effectively, it’s fine to ask any questions you may have, such as whether the role would require you to work specific days.
4. If they ask you, give a straight answer
The employer may want to check whether you’re happy with what they’re offering; for example, if they need someone who can work four days a week, they may ask whether that’s feasible for you. If they do ask, just be honest and enthusiastic about how you’ll make the role work; as with all types of flexibility, it works best when it works both ways.