Multiple Part-time Jobs - The Benefits

Having difficulty breaking into an occupation? Do you need flexibility in your work life? Would you like to get started in an industry? If job seekers are strategic, streaming income from multiple salaried part-time jobs can have countless benefits. It can be beneficial to new graduates starting their careers, job seekers moving to a new city, province or country and for people who are transitioning into a new occupation or industry. Workers can leverage opportunities, build a larger network, gain valuable experience and pay bills (not a bad idea).

I have had three major career changes in my life, and I have used this strategy to break into a new occupation and industry each time. Out of high school, I trained to become a legal office administrator. I was test driving law as a potential career direction. After working in the industry, I decided this wasn't a path I wanted to pursue with a degree, and I retrained to become a teacher. After five years of studying, I graduated into a recession with stiff competition from laid off, experienced teachers. School divisions were downsizing and there were few full-time jobs. I did get interviews but no jobs offers. The response from employers, "We hired someone who had experience."

It was an extremely frustrating experience because the logic didn't add up. How was I supposed to get experience when no one would give me a job? I clearly needed a strategy. After a few days of sitting on the couch watching old reruns of Oprah, I pulled myself together and strategized. I pieced together four part-time jobs to help me financially weather the recession, while building skills and a much needed network into the teaching industry.

To accomplish this, I tapped into my contacts and through my roommate found a part-time job in a daycare to build experience working with younger children. I then talked to a teacher who informed me that the entry point into teaching was through subbing. I applied for the sub-list and worked two jobs as a substitute teacher to build my network into schools. I kept my part-time banking job (that put me through university) because I could work evenings and weekends, plus it provided me with full dental and eye care benefits. It was also my back-up career plan.

I will admit, it was a juggling act, and I sometimes answered the phone at the bank using the name of the daycare. However, it was worth it. Within 10 months, I was offered a temporary full-time teaching job that turned into a permanent full-time position six months later. In the interview, the school division was impressed with my ability to juggle multiple commitments. They apparently believed if I could juggle four jobs, I could manage a classroom of 30 grade three children.

“I will admit it was a juggling act and I sometimes answered the phone at the bank using the name of the daycare.”

I have also worked multiple jobs to launch a career in another country. Fast forward a few years to when my husband and I moved to Japan to teach. We did our research, talked to teachers coming back from Japan who encouraged us to work multiple part-time jobs. With this style of work, we would have the freedom to work for whomever we wanted and take more vacation time (big bonus). Upon our arrival, we pieced together part-time work, and a private business, creating six streams of income and the ability to create our own schedule and have more time to travel throughout Asia. This strategy also eventually increased our network leading to a full-time job and more lucrative part-time contracts.

I have also worked multiple jobs when I have transitioned from one occupation and industry to another. Fast forward again to when I decided to move into the career development field. I was working as an academic/career advisor/international student coordinator/ESL teacher (yes, that was one job) in a high school when I decided to move into the career development field. I quit my job so I would have time to explore other options.

While researching and talking to people in the career development industry, I worked part-time teaching English as a Second Language to adults. I wanted to add adult education experience to my skills and I needed to pay my bills. It was through my part-time work that I was "discovered" in the lunch room by Carol, a supervisor of a work placement program. She offered me the opportunity to job shadow which turned into a full-time job offer. By having a conversation in the lunch room, I had tapped into a hidden opportunity in the career development industry through my part-time teaching job. From this experience, I learned that we can't underestimate the power of just getting ourselves into the building.

Savvy portfolio careerists know that working for multiple companies part-time gives them more opportunity to share their skills, double the potential for promotion, a larger network and double the potential to learn and be mentored. It also provides the opportunity to explore various industries, learn first-hand about potential career pathways, jobs that are dying out and work that is emerging within the hidden job market.

Strategizing and working multiple part-time jobs can create opportunity and beats sitting on the couch watching Netflix and the bills stack up. However, nothing is perfect. And, because nothing is perfect, in my next post, I will hash out the challenges associated with working multiple part-time jobs.