I'm not overqualified, I'm unemployed and looking for part-time work.
October 23, 2012 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm having a difficult time finding part-time work. I think it's because I'm overqualified. Um, help?

Well, there could be a lot of reasons. I've been out of the workforce for about four or so years while getting my Master's degree (two + years for BA then 1 1/2 years for MA then about a year looking for work). Plus, I have medical issues which keep me from working full time. I know I can work part-time admin or part time doing just about anything but retail (too much standing and in most retail situations "part-time" means anything below 40 hours). The government says I'm not disabled and now I have student loans to pay off. My honey can support us both, but my loans are not his responsibility. I need to work enough to at least pay my loans off.

Here's the problem, I have tons of admin experience and retail experience. I have oodles of computer experience, database experience, customer service experience, and know my way around most office equipment blindfolded. I'd be an asset to any office. But because of my health issues, the positions I want are low-key, entry level, not too much stress. Something I can go in, do my work, and leave.

Temp work is out because most of them are full-time positions but temporary. I tried temp work when I first moved here. Temp work was my bread and butter for years, but now a full day's work drains me. Two days work, one week recovering. It's too much. I tried subbing after temping and it's the same... Eight hours ain't gonna cut it. Four hours I can handle. That's about what I was doing in college, and it worked fine.

So here's my question, because I'm not getting any responses from employers, and the few I get are that I'm overqualified. Other than outright lying (or lying by omission) on the applications and my resume, how can I convince employers who are seeking part-time candidates that I'm honestly looking for long-term, part-time employment? It seems that all they see is a graduate degree and over 15 years of experience in the field. I'm stumped.
posted by patheral to Work & Money (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you think having a graduate degree on your resume is hurting you, leave it off. That's not even close to unethical.
posted by wrok at 12:11 PM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

could you casually mention it in a cover letter? I am not a wordsmith when it comes to cover letters, but it might put you in the right direction.
posted by royalsong at 12:11 PM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: Have you tried nonprofits? They offer not huge salaries and few benefits but lots of flexibility (in my experience) and they love Master's degrees. I have worked alongside nonprofits a lot and for one or two as a part-timer or volunteer, and I have always been surprised by the education/experience level of the staff, who are earning much less than they would at for-profit companies. They're often not there on Fridays, or only there until 2, or things like that. PT schedules are pretty common.

But lots of people are actually lying by omission on their resumes these days. Your education is also your reason for a gap in your resume though, so not sure how you could do that.
posted by headnsouth at 12:13 PM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

Just pare your resume. Leave off the graduate degree and the first 10 years of your work experience. Make sure your resume has a Skills section and tailor it to each position. There's no need to have programming skills in there for a job that wants you to answer the phone and sling shit around on spreadsheets.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:14 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think non-retail or non-food service part-time jobs are highly competitive. There are a lot of people in your position who want the exact same thing. Mothers who just had a baby and want to get back to work, elderly folks who want to ease into retirement, other post grad students that can't get a full time job, but will settle for a part-time office job.

Retail and food service jobs are not very appealing, so many people raise the bar and go for the next best kind of part time job, the job that you are currently looking for.
posted by nikkorizz at 12:17 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: The only reason I put the graduate degree in is to explain the gap in employment. Otherwise it'll look like I haven't worked since 2007.
posted by patheral at 12:19 PM on October 23, 2012

Just say you were taking classes, or taking care of sick family or something. Plus, the economy since 2008.
posted by rhizome at 12:30 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check the school district(s) job boards online for your area for classified sub positions such as teacher's aides, yard duty, crossing guards, playground/noontime supervisors. They're almost always part-time and you can pick the jobs you want to take as soon as you get on the sub lists of school districts near you. Caveat: you may need to have fingerprints taken and/or a clear TB test to sign up in some areas, as you do in my area.
posted by Lynsey at 12:41 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

headnsouth's suggestion is a good one, but beware that all nonprofits are not the same in terms of flexibility and stress level. I've worked at organizations like the ones they described and I've also worked at ones where you're expected to work 60+ hours a week and come in on the weekends.
posted by anotheraccount at 12:46 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We hire exactly people like you, but we want to know it in the cover letter. Otherwise we assume (based on our experience) that you'll be gone like a shot the first time a "real" job offers you a spot.

If we're hiring for, say, 25 hours a week, we want to know why 25 hours per week is EXACTLY what you want, though I'm not sure I'd mention health issues. Personal time, school, child care, a dedication to volunteering, a devotion to birding... all of those things are good enough for us.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Re-tool your resume for the type of position that you want. This includes leaving off your Master's Degree. If you want, you can explain the gap in person saying that you returned to school during that time. If you had a part-time job during your schooling, mention that, especially if you were a TA or doing student teaching.

You can also say you were self-employed, or temping during that time. Or have a company, Patherol Consulting, where you did consulting work, or ran errands for someone, or were a nanny, or whatever. Just get something on there to account for the time.

I do recommend things like working for Utilities (phone, electric, gas, water) they have call center jobs and in most cases are actively seeking folks who can work part-time and/or who have some flexibility. I know that Embarq had people working out of their houses.

You can do a functional resume where you list your skills at the top, downplaying the actual jobs you held. Also, no need to go back to the stone age with your job history. The last 10 to 15 years should suffice, unless you have a lot of jobs. I think, unless you're stressing something super special at that particular job, an admin job is an admin job is an admin job. The more streamlined the better.

Check out USAJOBS, they have a metric shit-load of part-time jobs. (3369 to be precise). One might be right for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:05 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I recommend getting set up with a staffing agency. I have applied to many office administration type jobs in my life, and have only ever actually gotten jobs in that field through agencies (I am also overqualified). I was looking for a part time job through one and found one very quickly, partly because most people who go through staffing agencies are looking for full-time jobs. You can also be upfront with them about your concerns and condition, and they will help tailor your resume for each employer and find a good fit. The agency will love you because with your skills you will make them look good , and will work hard to get you a good placement.

Good luck!
posted by imalaowai at 1:56 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're qualified/experienced to do the job, then you demonstrate how you're qualified/experienced to do the job. Anything beyond that is irrelevant to them and may suggest to them (unfairly to you) that you'd be high maintenance.

If you want an entry-level, low-key job then you pitch yourself to them at that level. The Master's is irrelevant at that level. A skills-based resume is what you want to create, not a chronological one. You highlight your ability to do the job - that's all they care about.
posted by heyjude at 3:31 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not sure how applicable this is to the US, but it might be worth looking for part-time jobs at colleges or universities. My local (UK) Uni employs a lot of people on a part time basis (and the format of part-time is often open to the person applying). They also don't seem to care about being over-qualified, since there are a ton of people who move from post-grad qualifications into admin work.
posted by SuckPoppet at 6:00 AM on October 24, 2012

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