Should I Take Part-Time Work While I'm Looking for Employment?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Deciding whether or not to work part-time while looking for employment is not as simple as it may seem. If a worker receives unemployment compensation benefits, for example, working a part-time job may seriously affect his or her eligibility for future income while looking for employment. On the other hand, working a part-time job is generally preferable to not working at all. Extended unemployment can have serious financial, mental and emotional effects on a person, so earning even a small income can stave off feelings of worthlessness or unemployability.

Some people wait tables nights and weekends while looking for full time employment.
Some people wait tables nights and weekends while looking for full time employment.

Some may view a part-time job as a hindrance to looking for employment, since time spent on a company clock is time not spent on a search for permanent employment. Scheduling job interviews or attending job fairs during the day, for example, may not be feasible if the hours of a part-time job are not flexible. A worker looking for employment may have to spend the time before and after the part-time job sending out resumes, filling out applications and emailing potential employers. A part-time job may be beneficial financially, but it shouldn't get in the way of a more permanent job search.

Some part-time opportunities may be found in the classified section of a newspaper.
Some part-time opportunities may be found in the classified section of a newspaper.

Working a part-time job in a field of interest is usually a good idea when looking for employment in that field, or at least something similar. Workers with specialized skills or training often benefit by working a part-time job instead of simply collecting unemployment compensation or other government assistance. Many employers will consider hiring a part-time employee for a full-time position rather than hire an unproven applicant from the outside. In a situation where demonstrating a strong work ethic or exceptional job skills is critical, working a part-time job would be more beneficial in many cases than submitting a resume blindly.

Temporary part-time positions may include work as a filing clerk.
Temporary part-time positions may include work as a filing clerk.

Having a part-time or temporary job while looking for employment is not necessarily beneficial, however. Many jobs of this nature are considered entry-level or menial by employers, which means getting noticed for a more responsible position in the company may not be easy. Working in the mail room or shipping dock of a large corporation part-time does not necessarily translate into a promotion or an advantage during a formal job interview. Many part-time jobs are considered to be dead end positions with little chance of advancement. Those on a serious quest for permanent full-time employment should feel comfortable leaving a part-time job whenever a better position becomes available.

Working at a movie theater may give a job seeker customer service experience that will make them more desirable for full-time employment.
Working at a movie theater may give a job seeker customer service experience that will make them more desirable for full-time employment.

Whether or not to work a part-time job while looking for employment often boils down to long-term financial benefit. Workers who may be facing a very long period of unemployment may want to hold off on part-time employment if their unemployment compensation is sufficient for their basic needs. If permanent employment opportunities exist in the near future, a worker may benefit financially and personally from working a part-time job until a new job opportunity begins. It never hurts to keep in the habit of working while seeking full-time employment, but the potential loss of unemployment compensation benefits is also something laid-off or downsized workers should consider.

Some employment contracts prevent employees from looking for other jobs while employed.
Some employment contracts prevent employees from looking for other jobs while employed.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

AnswerMan

One time I was laid off from a good factory job and I claimed my unemployment benefits as soon as I could. That was a pretty good deal for a few weeks, but then I started getting bored with just sitting around the house doing nothing. I started looking in the paper for job leads, but there wasn't much full-time work to be had out there. I finally applied for a few part-time jobs just to have something to do with my time.

Of course having additional income while drawing unemployment did create some problems, but it wasn't as bad as I feared. The part-time position did eventually lead to something full-time and I stopped collecting unemployment altogether. I was lucky enough to find a good part-time job, but I can see how some other people who are collecting unemployment might not want to take the first part-time job offer that comes their way.

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