Can I have my cake and eat it too?
November 14, 2009 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Need suggestions for going full to part-time. I need to leave a position but would like to leave an opening for doing part-time work or working again in the future.

I'm probably over thinking this one, but why else do we post on askmefi? I've been working as a personal/research assistant for someone for about a year and a half. I do a lot of different things for this person and my job involves a hybrid of skills. For the record, my boss doesn't even live in the same state that I do, and so it makes this position both awesome and really difficult. (Awesome- hardly ever see my boss and have amazing flexibility. Difficult- communication is a constant problem and I don't get the kind of feedback/support I really need. Also isolated (work from home) and confused about expectations for work all the time, and there is a cultural as well as age/gender divide between us.) For a million different reasons, it's time to close shop with the full-time thing and branch out. I'm underpaid, but I stuck it out because of the flexibility, but lately the perks just don't make up for the amount and type of work I'm doing. He doesn't really have the money to give me a raise, and frankly, I'm burned out with being a telecommuting personal assistant. If I could do it part-time or something, that would be great, but I don't know if it's an option.

I've thought about asking for a raise and sticking it, but in my heart I know I need a change and something new. I already have some feelers out with some other people which will probably lead to some other part-time work.
However, I would like to convey to my boss that I'm interested continuing on a part-time basis, or do freelance work once again with him. Basically, I want to have it both ways- I want to leave, but I want to keep a door open.

I don't really know what I want yet, because I'm afraid he'll just kind of drop me if I bring up my ambivalence. How should I best feel him out? Just flat out tell him I need to go part-time? Tell him I'm going back to school or something and I need a different schedule? Does anyone have experience leaving a job while staying involved? (This is a very non-corporate gig with very unclear "rules" so different than other jobs. If I pitch it to him right, I might be able to get what I want, which is work maybe 15-20 hours/ 2 or 3 days a week.

Also, this will be a conversation over the phone, and not in person. So I'm trying to figure out ways to execute this the best way possible, and have a win-win type conversation. Negotiations just kind of scare me, so it's good practice anyway.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you want to work part-time, let him know unequivocally that you want to work part-time. It won't seem ambivalent if you are not ambivalent about it. He may not want a part-time assistant, and he may say that it's full-time or no job, but the only way you're ever going to know whether it's possible is to ask.

Also, if you're nervous, you may want to practice. Ask a friend to play your boss and practice having the phone call with the friend acting out different reactions your boss might have. It'll help you feel calm and prepared.
posted by decathecting at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2009

if you aren't going back to school or something, don't say that. don't lie.

i guess i'm not entirely clear on what your goal is here. do you want to eventually not work for this guy at all, and you see working part-time as a way of easing your way out while looking for other employment? or do you just want to work part-time for him and part-time for someone else?

can the work that you currently do for him be done in 20 hours a week? if so, then he'll probably let you do part-time work. if not, he'll either ask you to stay on full time (to which you can say yes or no) or drop you in favor of someone who will work full time.

fwiw, i have had 0% success going from full time to part time in the 2 instances i have tried it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2009

I went to from full-time to 75% time (with a maternity leave in-between). What worked for me is I identified a specific segment of a job (roughly 25%) that could be given to someone else. She took it over when I went on leave and I didn't take it back when I returned.

So, if you really want to go to 50-60% time on an on-going basis then make a proposal as to what you would do, what the new person would do and how you might train and coordinate to the degree necessary. Job sharing (splitting one position between two people who divide the hours is very hard - breaking it apart into two distinct part time positions is very much easier.) You should also think ahead about what hours you would like to work - for example mornings only or 3 full days.

If you really don't want to continue to work the guy, then I would tell him (not that baldly, of course) but let him know that you would be happy to do some projects for him on a contract basis. This will go over better if you can say "for example, I could do x, y, or z on a time and materials basis" That leaves the door open for additional relationship that might be more in line with what you want. (Although he may never call.)
posted by metahawk at 8:04 PM on November 14, 2009

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