How do you represent a part time job on your resume?
Here’s a thought: you don’t even have to mention that it was part time! It’s up to you how you chose to represent your professional experience on paper.
While 85% of people own up to lying on their resumes, as a career coach, I could never in good conscience encourage you to lie about your work experience… There are so many ways those lies can catch up to us: you could miss out on a job offer, damage your reputation, or even get fired once your lie is revealed. In fact, over 75% of hiring managers say that they’ve caught a lie on a resume and 38% have turned down the applicant as a result. Let’s save the creative writing for places other than your resume!
That being said, choosing not to share that your job is part time by no means represents a lie… If you’re asked, you’ll tell! Plus, some job applications will ask, in which case you can share. Remember, your resume is a marketing document used to highlight relevant experience– emphasize, relevant. Is it relevant that your job is 30 hours a week and not 40? Not really.
And why the stigma about part time jobs? As of September 2020, 16.9% of the workforce was employed Part-Time, and for 88% of this group, the decision to work part time was voluntary. So plenty of us are engaged as part of the part-time workforce.
Many companies across different industries are increasingly seeking to fill part-time roles. This is especially true within the startup economy. According to Flexjobs senior career specialist Brie Reynolds, “Part-time jobs are also a great way for startups and small companies to bring on additional team members, so they can keep growing while keeping their costs low.”
So how can you selectively represent your part-time experience alongside your full-time experience in a way that is both truthful, and also paints you in the best possible light? Here are four tips:
- Be prepared and careful in how you discuss your part-time role, whether on your resume or in an interview.
Just as there are many reasons one might take a part-time job, there are many ways to emphasize part-time work experience as a plus.
On your resume, it’s totally your prerogative whether or not to make explicit that a job was part-time. That said, it’s important to approach the description and follow-up with extra care, so as not to give the impression that you are trying to hide something. Make sure that you are honestly describing your experience. This becomes especially relevant if you are asked in an interview about your part-time job.
If asked in an interview to discuss the commitment level of a certain position, there are a lot of great ways to frame a part-time job:
- Added professional perk: You could say that you took on a part-time job during a certain time-period so that you could focus on other aspects of your professional development (be specific here!).
- Staying connected during change: You cou say that you accepted the role to allow yourself time to devote to searching for your best-fit full-time job.
- An opportunity you couldn’t turn down: You could mention that you were very excited about joining a certain company, and took a part-time role as an opportunity and learning experience at a time when they were not offering a full time position.
The important thing is that you emphasize your own agency in pursuing part-time work. Emphasizing your employers flexibility, and the mutually-beneficial dynamic of your part-time experience will help frame it as a carefully planned career move!
- Emphasize what’s most relevant and not what doesn’t serve you.
It’s an understandable impulse to want your resume to be as accurate a reflection of your work experience as possible, but a resume that reads more like a tell-all biography than highlight reel won’t really serve your career well. As with any job, it’s important to decide if and how a part-time job is relevant to your application.
These days, it’s very important to strike the balance in terms of length and detail of resumes. Hiring managers are not looking to do a deep dive on your personal history, they’re more likely to do a quick scan. In fact, up to 40% will spend less than a minute looking over your resume.
Needless to say, it’s important to decide what to bolster up and what to trim down. When making these decisions, remember it’s important to tweak your resume to best fit the specific job application/description. Did you know that the average applicant creates only one, maybe two resumes, during a job search? Using the same generic resume can be a major mistake when you consider that 63% of recruiters want a resume that is tailored to the specific open position. Some tips:
- Start with a careful reading of the description for the job you want. From there, you can decide which past jobs, full-time or part-time, are the most relevant to the application. Assess which skills and qualifications in this new job are the most related to your past work experience. Look at the wording on job postings you like as though it’s fairy dust for you to sprinkle on your current resume, positioning past experiences in alignment with the future roles you want. Be sure to also consider if you have any additional relevant skills that you could emphasize.
- Emphasize a part-time job only if it relates directly to the position, or reflects an important professional skill. We may take a part-time job because we need to make a little extra money or carry us through until a full time opportunity. Alternately, it may be because we see a great professional opportunity to bolster our skills in a certain work environment. Distinguishing between these two instances may help you decide if a part time job belongs on your resume. So if you work as a paralegal for a prestigious firm, or did contract data analytics, great! But maybe you can “Command X” the section about your time at the pier ice cream stand.
- Boost your most applicable skills. Cut down on lengthy descriptions of past jobs that don’t relate closely to the future job you want. The same goes for skills that are not relevant. Again, there is no need to emphasize that a job was part time, especially if you want to highlight this experience as particularly relevant to the position you are seeking. See your resume as if it’s a piece of real estate. If where you’re headed jobwise is into a gold standard job, spend more time showcasing your gold standard skills you’ve cultivated in the past, as they relate to the next job you want!
Making sure that your resume is polished, well-formatted, and expressly designed to touch on the specifics of a job posting will give you a leg up on the competition.
- Maximize the Impact of your resume by using a ATS strategy.
Another way to make sure that your resume is giving you the best chance of getting hired, regardless of your part-time job situation, is to approach resume building with an ATS (Application Tracking System) strategy. It’s important to remember that many resumés are screened with an ATS, which uses an algorithm to scan resumes for relevant keywords and information. That’s why up to 75% of resumes are rejected before they ever reach the hiring manager. Without simply using the right keywords on your resume you might be missing out on the dream job you keep searching for.
Make sure that you calibrate your resume with ATS in mind. How do you do this?
- The name of the game is “keyword optimization.” Look for specific keywords within the job description, both job titles (i.e. Content Creator, Market Analyst) and hard skills (such as Photoshop, Search Engine Marketing, Data Analytics.) Look for places within your own resume that you might be able to replace words or calibrate descriptions to include as many of these keywords as possible.
- If a part time job most closely matches the job description, give it special attention. Even if it isn’t the most salient experience, or the thing you want at the very top of the page, take the opportunity to align the description with the keywords in the job posting. Even if it doesn’t stick out to the hiring manager, it’ll help ensure your resume passes the recruitment firewall of an ATS.
- Don’t get too creative with your headings and formatting. Because your resume may get parsed by a bot before it makes it to a hiring professional, you’re better off using simple and generic headings like “Work Experience,” and “Education.” Although creative formatting may help to build a more visually appealing resume, complicated headers, footers, and tables can confuse the robots and lead to information being processed out of order or not at all.
- Use some internet tools to assess the quality of your resume. One great tool is Jobscan, which tests how well your resume matches a particular job description. Jobscan will identify missing keywords and also scan for formatting issues that may impede your resume’s information being properly processed by an ATS. Jobscan also provides ATS friendly resume templates to help you get started. Another great ATS resume scanner is Skillsyncer, which you can try for free!
- Have trusted colleagues who can act as a reference, but don’t put them on your resume.
There’s no hard and fast rule that a reference has to be a manager or boss. In fact, there are many people who can serve as good work references. No one is suggesting that you call up Peggy from 3rd grade dance class to impersonate your old CFO, but there is nothing wrong with connecting with an old work friend, preferably someone with whom you worked closely to serve as a reference.
If you are hoping to maximize the benefit of a relevant part-time job to your resume, make sure you have a reference who will give a positive representation of your work at that particular position. This sounds obvious, but according to Jeff Shane, a specialist in employee verification, “About half of the reference checks we perform come back with negative comments.” Reach out to a colleague and fill them in about the details of your application and how you’ve positioned your work experience, and also how they can help your changes as your reference.
While it may be tempting to list these trusty references directly on the resume, most experts feel it is not necessary. Instead, consider compiling a separate professional references document, including contact information and the details of your shared professional experience. Make sure the formatting of this document matches that of your resume so they can read as a continuous document, however, you don’t need to provide references until they are solicited by the hiring manager. This document is something that will come in handy further down the line in a hiring process. You also don’t need to state “references available upon request,” it’s unnecessary and already implied.
Don’t let the fact that a role was part-time stop you from sharing your most valuable strengths and assets. A successful job hunt comes down to feeling empowered to give yourself the best chance and represent yourself in the most favorable way.