How to Apply for a Part-Time Job

Applying for a Part-Time Job

Man and woman in plant nursery
Susan Chiang/E+/Getty Images

Here is how to apply for a part-time job.

What is "Part-Time Work?"

“Part-time work” generally refers to your position's schedule, not the scope or duties of the job. You may think of retail or warehouse positions, but these jobs make up just a portion of part-time jobs. Just about any job can be done on a part-time schedule, including high-level or professional positions. There are part-time marketing directors, accountants, attorneys, truck drivers, nonprofit leaders, nurses, school teachers, production line workers, software programmers, lobbyists, carpenters, sales representatives and even more.

Defining your work goals is important because part-time positions are not as likely to be advertised. Determine what kind of work you want to do, and then identify the companies that could likely use your services. Then you can reach out directly to employers who aren’t advertising for part-time help.

You’ll probably want to explain to the prospective employer why you want a part-time work schedule. Answers may include other responsibilities (such as school or caretaking), or the desire to ramp down from a full-time schedule. 

Basic Rules for Applying

Dress should be, at the least, neat and tidy. Business casual is usually appropriate. For example, khakis and a neat polo shirt would work well. No jeans or shorts, tank tops, crop tops or anything especially low cut (shirt or pants) or short (skirt). "Muffin top" jeans or khakis, with your belly showing, should also be on your list of what not to wear when applying for a job.

Make sure your hair and fingernails are well groomed. Extreme hair styles or colors aren't going to help you get a job.

Wear moderate shoes. Don't wear spike heels, platforms, flip flops, or old dirty sneakers.

If you have multiple piercings you might want to consider removing some of them while you are job searching.

Information You Need to Fill Out an Application

  • Schools and dates attended
  • Names and addresses of previous employers, if you have worked before
  • Dates of employment
  • References (can be neighbors or teachers)
  • Resume (if you have one)

Although you should probably be clear from the beginning that you’re seeking a partial work schedule, it’s not necessary to specify the hours you want to work. You can leave that to the negotiation stage, once you and the manager have determined you’re interested in each other.

Speaking of negotiation, you shouldn't assume that you have to leave benefits behind to work part-time. Some companies do offer full benefits to part-time workers, while others pro-rate their packages according to the hours worked. If benefits are important to you, take the time to identify which ones you care about most. And if you don’t need, or can’t get, benefits from your part-time employer, try to compensate by negotiating a pay increase.

Be prepared for a brief on-the-spot interview.

Print out a sample job application, so you know what information you'll need to know while applying for a job.

If you have a resume, bring copies with you.