No, my availability is NOT flexible.
January 9, 2013 5:16 AM   Subscribe

I need a job on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only. What's the best way to approach my job search?

I'm currently attending college all day on Mondays (studying animal care) and working in a vet's surgery on Thursdays (for a 12-hour shift) and Fridays (six hours). I'd like to find another job on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, preferably working 9-5 or something close to it. (My husband works full time, and I'd rather be working in the hours when I would otherwise be home alone, rather than evenings or weekends when I could be spending time with him.)

So either I need to find an employer who is advertising for someone to work on precisely those days, or one who wants an employee for 14-16 hours a week and is not particular about which days those hours are worked. Such employers may or may not exist, but I'm having trouble searching for them, because I haven't yet found a site that will let me filter vacancies by days and hours required. So I have to look through dozens of jobs I'm not available for before finding one I might be able to do.

I've also considered the possibility of home-based or freelance work, but am finding it difficult to spot genuine opportunities among the multitude of scams. I signed up for a couple of websites with good reputations -- Textbroker and Clickworker -- but they don't seem to have much work available.

Can anyone give me advice about focusing my job search more effectively? Is there a way to proactively approach employers without my limited availability putting them off? Are there any promising types of work that I might not have considered? Any agencies or sites you can recommend for people in my situation?

(Some further background if needed: In addition to animal care, I also have experience in writing, editing, researching and admin. I live in London, and I don't have a car. I wouldn't be willing to do any work that involved harm to animals -- including cooking/selling meat -- or anything of an "adult" nature.)

Thank you!
posted by Perodicticus potto to Work & Money (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think your best bet would be working in retail, like a large department store.

When I worked at Macy's, they had folks called "flyers" and they would float around different departments and fill in for those who were absent. Sometimes they'd fold sweaters or put bras back on hangers, or clean fitting rooms, but they could always work those specific days.

Go to the larger stores and put in an application.

Another option would be a temp agency, for one-day assignments. But those wouldn't be guaranteed.

I'd have recommended a restaurant or a bar, but I don't know too many of them that are vegetarian. You never know though.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:24 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tons of people advertise in my neighborhood that they are looking for child care only one or two days a week. Maybe that is a good option..
posted by pearlybob at 5:32 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you asked your school? When I was in grad school, professors were always looking for part-time research assistants and the like.
posted by Etrigan at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

They're evil, but call centers are often willing to let people work their own hours. They might not want to hire someone who wants to work so few, though.
posted by ubiquity at 5:45 AM on January 9, 2013

Best answer: You want the types of job (retail, restaurants) where people typically work on certain days/shifts/hours. This would be totally normal and acceptable in those situations. Childcare also sounds like a good idea, or maybe cleaning houses.

I have temped for a million years and while I've had assignments that happened to last one or two days, I would not waste time going to a temp agency for regular, specific 1-2 day assignments. The random short assignments are rare, what you want would be very rare if not non-existent.

There might, maybe, be a job-share situation for an admin somewhere. Maybe.

Don't freelance doing something like writing/editing. That is a full time, hard work, long term, more seeking work than doing it kind of job. (I mean don't do it in your situation, not don't do it at all.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:52 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check in with your school - student workers often work those sort of limited, specific hours and they may be able to help you find something in the school at Etrigan suggests.
posted by leslies at 6:09 AM on January 9, 2013

Best answer: What about dog walking or dog sitting? Plenty of dog walkers work two days a week, and with your vet/medical experience, this would be an asset!
posted by floweredfish at 6:20 AM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Retail stores or coffee shops, or ask your vet-employer if he knows of any other vets who could use some help. Since you're not even willing to work in a place that serves meat, that lets out most food service/waitress/delivery work; and your daytime-only limit restricts almost any kind of theater usher/ticketseller. Can you do accounting or office work? Perhaps find a very small professional office that needs just a little help.

You're really not going to find anything very high-paying, because let's face it: you've put a ton of restrictions on any prospective employers, and they'll prefer to hire employees with more flexibility.
posted by easily confused at 6:39 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to suggest dog walking or dog sitting, like flowerdish. You could contact established dog walkers and offer your services to them. My dog walkers find it hard to take days off because they are very dedicated to their business and their clients and don't like to turn down requests.

Along similar lines, you could also give medications to pets that someone else is watching -- I had a cat that needed daily IV fluids, and when I went out of town, I would have a neighbor come in for daily feeding and litter box cleaning, and I hired a vet tech and vet assistant to come in and give my cat his fluids in addition. Such people were usually not available every day, so I cobbled together a team of people, one of which would come each day, meet my neighbor, give the cat his fluids, then leave. Here in the US at least, dog walkers get a lot of these kinds of requests, but can't always fulfill them because they don't have the expertise.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:42 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could sign up at a few (office) temp agencies and tell them your availability up front.
posted by lulu68 at 6:53 AM on January 9, 2013

They're evil, but call centers are often willing to let people work their own hours.

This is rarely the case in the UK - you're working shifts, or 9-5. There might be part-time contracts but they will tell you when they want you in.

I believe some charity shops offer paid employment, though I can't remember which do (I think the BHF, though depends where you draw the line in terms of funding animal testing which might be an issue for a medical research charity).
posted by mippy at 7:21 AM on January 9, 2013

Look into Leapforce and Lionsbridge.

Also, Appen Butler Hill.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've made decent money doing freelance editing/proofreading for professors or fellow students. It's compatible with a complicated schedule like yours as long as you make it clear to potential clients that you don't do last-minute rush work.

In particular, on US college campuses, there are a lot of researchers from overseas who speak English as their second language and who need to polish up their articles' grammar before sending them off to a journal for publication. Since they need to get those articles published in order to advance in their field, they're often willing to pay a decent rate for help. I suspect this will be true at your school in the UK too. And given your background, you've got an extra selling point — if you work with bio or vet medicine researchers, you can say "Look, I study this stuff too, I'll understand what you're trying to say better than some random proofreader from outside academia, you can trust me not to introduce errors, etc etc etc."

(You'll also find undergrads who want to pay you to edit or rewrite their term papers — but that's actually very hard to do in a way that's still ethical, and so not really worth it unless you're willing to be totally unscrupulous about it.)

The downside is that you probably won't have a reliable number of hours. You'll have some weeks when your Tuesdays and Wednesdays are full up, some when you've got nothing at all to do, and maybe some where you've overcommitted yourself and end up working "overtime."
posted by and so but then, we at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2013

I'm not in London so YMMV, but have you tried restaurants? A lot of the times they'll have a long-time person there who can't work some random days for some reason and they'll need someone to fill in for them.
posted by Autumn at 9:01 AM on January 9, 2013

Response by poster: Just popping in to say thanks for all the great responses so far - I am sending CVs to local dog walking services as we speak!

I did want to clarify one thing: In the UK, "college" doesn't normally mean "university," but rather an institution granting either vocational qualifications or A-levels (the exams that students take in order to get into university). So a college doesn't really offer the sort of student job opportunities that a university would, although jobs on my college's farm do come up occasionally.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 9:34 AM on January 9, 2013

Derp. Got it. So then there may not be researchers lurking around campus at your school the way there would be at an American university, and my advice to hunt those researchers down and offer your services as a freelance editor might make less sense.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:20 AM on January 9, 2013

Best answer: Oof, volunteer for animal welfare, not animal rights, or you'll be putting yourself out of a future job (and everyone else out of pets)! I only learned the distinction in the UK, but WOW is it an important one!

From my experience working part-time in the US, I would say that the restaurant/coffee shop job is a good way to get a couple of shifts a week on a regular schedule. Even if the place is not hiring for the specific days you're looking for, it can be quite possible to trade shifts with another employee who either doesn't care whether he works on Tuesday or Wednesday, or woud rather be working the other shift anyway. Go in saying "two days a week", then get more specific when you know whether you would even be interested in working there.

Congratulations on your study and career move, by the way!
posted by Because at 3:38 AM on January 12, 2013

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