applying for a full-time job and asking to work part-time

A reader writes:

Last night I went to bed feeling secure in my newly-undertaken adventure as a part-time freelancer who recently left an unfulfilling full-time job in the wrong city and the wrong working culture to pursue my field in greener pastures. I spent the last two years putting aside all the savings I could to build a safety net for myself while I got started in this new location and was looking forward to a couple of years of dedicating myself to part-time work while spending the rest of my time on unpaid professional development (volunteering, networking, picking up additional credentials and certifications and expanding my skillset) as well as shaking off the stress of the 9-to-5 grind I just left. This morning I woke up to an ideal-but-awkwardly-timed job posting for an entry-level position I’m eminently qualified for at a company I’d already mentally ear-marked as a good potential future employer.

The problem is that the position is full-time and I’m already committed to two part-time contracts up until the end of summer, which were supposed to be the bulk of my income this year. I could not possibly do these projects while also working full-time without completely undoing all the mental and physical health self-care I’ve been investing in (60-70 hour work weeks for several months while living alone with a moderate back problem? No.) I was also not anticipating moving back into full-time so quickly, though if it’s the right job, I’m ready for it. And this might very well be the right job, just a lot sooner than I expected.

I’m going to apply so that at least my CV is on file with them for the future and for the opportunity to get to know the company better and see if they really are someone I can work for (and hopefully to give myself some benchmarks for what to expect in terms of employment in this city). But there’s a reasonable chance they will actually offer me the job, which I can only take if they will allow me to work part-time until my other commitments are finished. My plan is to not bring up my other commitments until the negotiation phase (before the offer, but after the interview), but I’m worried that that would be considered dodgy, since I already know I can’t do full-time yet. Still, I think if I put it in the cover letter, I may as well not apply at all for all the consideration they’re going to give me.

I know they are totally within their rights not to want to hire someone who can’t do full-time (at least not right away), but I also feel that as a part-timer whose other projects come with other significant contacts (it’s a highly collaborative field) and access to resources (my other employer is a university), I also bring some advantages. (Not to mention that my interest in on-going professional development should be an asset as well–the job posting itself lists “interest in learning” as an ideal quality–but this means enough flexibility for me to attend courses, workshops, and conferences.)

How do I navigate this? I don’t want to cut myself off at the knees just because the timing isn’t totally perfect, but I don’t want to run afoul of anyone or burn bridges either. I am trying to balance honesty with diplomacy, and hoping that this falls under the same umbrella as asking an employer if they can be flexible about start dates or telecommuting.

The thing that’s jumping out to me here is that you said the job is entry-level. If it’s entry-level, (a) they’re really unlikely to want to compromise on the role in this way, because they’re almost certainly going to have plenty of other qualified candidates who will be happy to do the work full-time, and (b) you sound like you’re overqualified for it anyway. You might think that being overqualified means that the employer gets a bonus — you can do the tasks of the job and probably take on more too! — but for employers, it’s usually a negative, not a positive. (More on that here.)

Because of that, I’m questioning whether this is even the right job for you. If you apply for something well below your qualifications as a way to start creating a relationship with a company, you risk creating the wrong relationship. By applying for something too junior for you, you’ll potentially look like you’re less qualified than your resume would otherwise indicate, and that will hurt you if you apply for something more suitable to your professional level in the future.

But all that aside, let’s answer the actual question that you’re asking: Most employers aren’t going to be receptive to making a full-time job part-time. There’s a reason it’s full-time; that’s what the work requires. You’d basically be saying, “I know you need X done, but I’m proposing that I just do half of X!” That doesn’t solve the problem they’re attempting to solve by hiring for this role; it actually leaves them paying someone for creating an additional problem that they now have to solve. Sometimes that ends up being okay, if you’re an incredibly desirable candidate who would be great for the work in a way no other candidate would be. But for an entry-level role, that’s very unlikely to be the case.

But if you decide to proceed with this anyway, let’s talk about timing for raising it. You’re right that if you put your part-time constraints in your cover letter, they’re unlikely to consider you further. There might be an opportunity to raise it during the interview stage, but if not, then yeah, the offer stage is where you’d discuss it. It’ll go over a lot better if you frame it as, “Is this something you’d be open to?” rather than “This is what I would definitely need to accept the job.” If it’s framed as the latter, you’re likely to just irritate them (they’ll wonder why you wasted their time when the ad made it clear that the job was full-time). You’d need to convey that you’re open to full-time but wondering about the possibility of part-time, and your reasons for that. And if they’re not open to it and offer you the full-time job, you could always consider it and end up determining that you’re not ready to return to full-time work after all. But I think if you present it as definitely the only thing you’d even consider, the question of why you applied in the first place will annoy them … which is not a good way to build a relationship with a company you might want to apply to in the future.

But really, I’m skeptical that this is the right position at all, for all the reasons above.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 142 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber Rose*

    I’m wondering why OP even wants the job. I understand the company is desirable, but it’s not like they’ll never be hiring for anything ever again. You had them ear-marked as a good ‘future’ prospect, and a plan for the next while already made. Why not just wait? There are other, arguably better ways of establishing a relationship with a company than submitting a resume.

    If the job is just something you really want to do (though I’m not getting that vibe, I could be wrong) then definitely go ahead… but maybe really think about why you want it.

    1. maggie*

      Thank you — I was inside-head screaming that exact sentiment. It’s not like this is the ONLY job they have. And it’s not like it’s the ONLY time someone has decided to push for their own greener pastures.

      Believe me, OP, you don’t want to go in as entry level if you have decided to spend this much time (and money) INCREASING your employability. It’s like shooting yourself in the highly educated foot.

      1. job seeking LW*

        I clarified below about why this is a good job for me and why I think there’s some different expectations about what “entry level” means in my specific context. Sorry for being so frustrating–if I submit to AAM again in the future, I’ll try to include better contextual information.

        1. maggie*

          I think it’s because we don’t understand your niche market. It’s hard to create context when anonymous.

    2. AyBeeCee*

      I know of a company that is very strongly about hiring internally. Even if you get hired for an entry level position, it’s not weird to be promoted to another position within six to nine months (or longer, depending on what’s open at any given time). It’s nearly impossible to hire into a more senior position directly. Of course this leads to issues with some of the higher-ups having tunnel vision about how a company “should” operate because it’s been over a decade since they’ve worked anywhere else, but that’s neither here nor there.

      1. The_poster_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Promoting from within – when possible – is a GOOD thing.

        Companies that DON’T promote from within – when it’s perfectly possible to do so – generally have problems they cause for themselves. Passed-over employees who can do the job – or only have 90% of the qualifications – end up leaving. Senior newbies often catch the resentment of long-term veterans in the company. And there are always political problems as people try to learn the new job.

        So AyBeeCee – you may see it as “tunnel vision” – but the higher-ups have likely seen that the “pass over dance” causes more problems than it can solve.

        1. The Strand*

          “only have 90% of the qualifications”… that’s an issue right there.

          Many people get hired without 75% of the qualifications, because it’s assumed they can be trained to fit into the organization. If an org is holding their *own* people to higher standards than people on the outside, you have a group that doesn’t value the concept of learning, training, or getting people to grow in their positions.

          Recipe for some serious unhappiness down the road.

    3. Jen S. 2.0*

      So much this. There will be another job. This is not the only opening they’ll ever have or your one, only, and final chance to get in with them.

      Sometimes a job is not right for you because of skills or salary or culture…and sometimes it’s because of timing. This is not your job.

      Not only that, but in my opinion, you are risking what may BE your job in the future with this plan. (“Isn’t this that chick/dude who applied 2 years ago, we offered her the job, and then s/he said s/he could only work part-time and backed out and left us in the lurch?” “Yep. Pitch that resume; s/he’s got issues.”) You aren’t networking by applying for jobs you know you very likely can’t take; you’re inconveniencing people. Set up informational interviews if you want to learn about companies and network.

      1. job seeking LW*

        It’s true that there will likely be another chance in the future, but in the meantime I need to keep picking up work in order to pay bills, so the problem of transitioning from freelancing to full-time isn’t going to go away. Honestly, it might just get more difficult. The longer I freelance the more harder I will probably find it to go to an entry level position like this, when I’d much rather strike out freelancing when I feel more ready to do so rather than out lack of other options. It just kind of smarts that this job posting came out literally a week after signing a part-time contract, instead of a couple months later. Oh well, it happens.

        (Also, I’ve stated repeatedly, including the original letter, that I would *never* let this get as far as the offer before bringing it up. C’mon, give me some credit.)

        1. Ops Analyst*

          I’m a bit confused as to why you would be looking for an entry level job after years of freelancing?

          To be honest, from an outsiders perspective, you sound confused. In your letter you said you were looking forward to a couple of years of dedicating myself to part-time work while spending the rest of my time on unpaid professional development” but now you’re thinking “I’d much rather strike out freelancing when I feel more ready to do so rather than out lack of other options”.

          I think you should spend some time thinking about what your ultimate goal is before accepting an entry level job that is going to put you back at square one and hamper your ability to grow professionally at the rate you’ve been intensely planning for over the past two years.

          1. job seeking LW*

            Not years of free-lancing. I just left one entry-level(ish) position in the wrong city (it was never called that, but it was the job I got right after graduating, so I guess it counts) and have been freelancing for *two months* using old contacts from my past job to keep me going. I have income for this year and no idea what next year will hold and if I will have work or not, which is why I was planning on cold-calling a bunch of people to look for contacts and work here. I knew I couldn’t count on a job coming up so fast, so, yes, I did plan for the possibility of doing this for a while and got excited about the freedom and possibilities and made the best of the situation I was in. I am *not* an established freelancer–I’ve been doing this for literally two months and it was never the long-term plan (one day, yes, but not now). Is that the impression that’s bothering everyone?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think I and others are having trouble totally grasping the situation, and maybe it’s because of the term “entry-level.” That usually means someone with no or very little experience … which usually isn’t someone who’s freelancing and has clients, because few people hire inexperienced freelancers. So it’s making me (and it sounds like others) think that you’re not well suited for an entry-level job because you’re clearly not entry-level.

              But I wonder if you’re using “entry-level” to mean something different?

              1. job seeking LW*

                I used “entry-level” because that was the language in the posting, but the posting description itself does not read as entry-level to me in terms of the ideal skills and experience described, except that, yes, it would be possible to do it without having experience in this specific field (though doing it straight out of grad school with *no* relevant experience in a related field would be tough). It sounds like a great fit for me though. My last job did involve more self-directed work whereas this would be a support position, but only because the management at my last job was 100% hands-off and let us figure it all out on our own, sink or swim. I want to learn *from* people, not from blind trial and error, which is why working in a support position sounds perfect to me.

                As for the freelancing, while that is technically what I’m doing, it’s only because I have a couple of clients from my last job (that ended at the beginning of January, by the way–this is all sudden!) that really love me and wanted me to keep working for them on the same things we were doing before. I’m not an established consultant by any means, though I can see how that wasn’t clear in my original submission.

              2. Anx*

                I think some people use entry-level to mean ‘lowest level to join the company’ which doesn’t mean it’s open to people with no or little experience. For example, 5 years required experience may be the minimum for one company, while at another 5 years experience may qualify you for a more senior position.

                Also, I don’t think all employers even consider freelance experience to be equal to ‘regular’ employment.

            2. Ops Analyst*

              I was referring to this comment:

              “The longer I freelance the more harder I will probably find it to go to an entry level position like this”

              Which implied that after a long time freelancing you will still be looking for an entry level position.

              1. job seeking LW*

                Yikes, my grammar was pretty terrible in that sentence as well. That’s what I get for replying quickly.

                I am looking for entry-level because I *am* entry level. Well-trained and with some experience, yes, but I haven’t, to my mind, really “entered” my field yet. If I freelance for a while though, I’m going to end up disqualifying myself from entry-level positions while still not necessarily gaining the experience I’m missing. As it is most people here already see me as beyond entry-level already from what I’ve described, which is worrisome to me, and actually makes me want to get this job now *more* or else I won’t have any options at all except freelancing. (Maybe that’s another thing that’s not clear–in my experience, the only mid-level jobs I’ve seen for my kind of work have been for government, which I already know I’m not suited to. In the private consulting I’ve seen, you are either support staff or boss/partner. I’m not ready to be boss.)

                1. Melissa*

                  Well, if you are “well-trained and with experience,” that would definitely imply that you are not entry-level.

                2. Zillah*

                  @ Melissa – I don’t know about that, especially not these days – I don’t know a whole lot of entry level people who don’t have some experience and training going in.

                3. Ops Analyst*

                  OP, have you considered that if everyone here is viewing you as more experienced, that hiring managers will too? Meaning, you should aim higher?

                  Take it from someone who spent years applying to lower level positions because I didn’t believe I had enough experience to reach for the higher level jobs. You’re more likely to be considered for stretch positions than you are to be considered for positions where you meet all the qualifications.

  2. Lily in NYC*

    What a great answer as usual. The entry-level thing jumped out to me as well. I think that’s the kind of thing where if they wanted part-time, they would have advertised it that way. And I know not every company is like this, but if it’s an entry level administrative-type position, the last thing I want is someone who only wants the job so they can get promoted out of it.
    Also, I think the desire for part-time should be mentioned before the interview, like during the screening phone call if there is one. Our interviews require a lot of coordinating (case studies, multiple interviews with different people, we have ridiculously complicated ranking spreadsheets) and I would not be happy to have wasted time if the candidate waited until the offer stage to tell us he/she is not willing to be full time. We would probably not consider that person for a future opening.

    1. job seeking LW*

      It’s a small firm (one guy in charge and a handful of associates) so there is unlikely to be a lengthy multi-contact screening process, but as a small business employer his time is still very valuable so if it looked like there was going to be a lot of repeat contacts rather than just application->interview->yes/no, then I would bring the issue up sooner for sure. I am leaning toward by the end of the first “major” contact after the application itself (so probably at the end or just after the interview, if it gets that far).

  3. Jwal*

    I would say that just because your CV is on a file somewhere in their system doesn’t mean that they’ll ever look at it again they’re hiring (especially if the kind of job that they’ll receive hundreds of applications for).

    If I was an employer and someone went through several interviews with me and then pulled out at the last minute because they didn’t want to do the clearly full time job unless it was part time I’d feel like they’d wasted my time. If I did then see their CV when posting another vacancy and remember the individual I’d be thinking negatively about them, and would be hesitant to proceed with them in case it happened again.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      But there’s more. If LW sent in her CV and was NOT called for an interview, it is also likely that her CV will disappear from all known awareness, and would need to be resubmitted for future openings. For many companies, especially small ones, there is no “on file for future openings” file.

      I vote you hold off until they have an opening you qualify for and can happily accept if offered.

        1. observer*

          Alison and comentors here typically use female pronouns for letter writers where gender/preferred pronouns are not known. If you would prefer others be used, perhaps you could specify?

        2. nona*

          What do you prefer? People here tend to use “she” for anyone whose gender they don’t know. I stick to “they” out of habit. “He,” “they,” something else?

      1. Zillah*

        Don’t they legally have to keep it on file for a certain period of time, though? That doesn’t mean they’ll consider you for future positions, but I didn’t think they could just get rid of it entirely as soon as they were done with the hiring process.

  4. MsM*

    LW, if your real goal is to develop a relationship with the company, then why not just…reach out to the company? Ask if you can get coffee with someone in a role related to what you want to do. Say you’re new in town, you’re impressed with their work, you think you might have some connections in common through your other collaborative work (some of whom might be able to provide you with a direct contact, if you’re afraid of making a cold call), and you’d love to talk more about the possibility of contract work/what you can do to position yourself for success/whatever it is that you really want. Not try and use this entry level job as a stepping stone to that thing, when you’ve said terribly little about what makes it so ideal in terms of actual responsibilities.

    1. Just Another Techie*

      Agreed. Network with these people by networking, not by applying for a job that sounds like not the greatest fit.

    2. job seeking LW*

      Cold calls was precisely my plan, actually! It’s just that I saw the posting before I could do that, so I wanted to figure out how to deal with that first. The reason the entry-level job is so appealing is because my last job was doing the thing that I wanted but not in the setting that I wanted, so I got experience doing the work but not with seeing how a normal business of this type runs. I did a little bit of part-time work that sounds identical to this job posting and I always wanted to do more of that, so this is the exact kind of experience I’ve been looking for. I initially planned to do cold calls to a few firms to try to get some part-time work that way, but it would look weird if I side-stepped such an obvious posting at the same time.

      1. short'n'stout*

        “…it would look weird if I side-stepped such an obvious posting at the same time.”

        I think you could easily address that if it comes up during a networking conversation – “My circumstances prevent me from doing justice to your open position at this time, but I’m interested in discussing similar roles once my present commitments are resolved.”

      2. MsM*

        I don’t see it that way, when the obvious posting also has such obvious conflicts with your schedule and prior experience. Maybe your field works very differently from what I’m familiar with, but I’m starting to wonder why you even asked for advice when you seem so sure you’re going to go ahead with your original plan despite all the caveats that have been raised. And I really, really think you need to listen to the ones about this being an entry-level position in particular, because I’m honestly not sure that *any* kind of position where you can’t be your own boss and make your own judgment calls is ultimately going to feel right to you.

        1. job seeking LW*

          I asked for advice about *how* to approach this, not about whether or not to. I’ve also clarified that the assumptions people are making about me not being qualified for this based on it being “entry level” are not accurate, at least in my field. While it’s true I don’t have absolutely *zero* experience, that’s not likely to be a liability here. It’s true that I wouldn’t see myself in this exact same position two or three years from now, but I can already see from the people listed on the website and their roles in the company and backgrounds that it’s not unreasonable to expect a growth in responsibility during that time either.

          Guys, please believe me when I say that an entry-level position into a fast-growing company is a *very good* choice for me right now and exactly what I need, just a little sooner than I was expecting to find it, hence the need to suddenly juggle my schedule. I’m not a complete babe in the woods here.

          1. MsM*

            I’m not accusing you of being a “babe in the woods.” Just the opposite, actually. I don’t get the impression your timeline for taking on more responsibilities is 2-3 years: it sounds to me like if you get your foot in the door, you’re going to be unhappy if it turns out your immediate supervisor really does just need you to focus on what s/he hired you for instead of planning your next career move. And yes, hopefully you’d sort that out and find a way to gracefully bow out before the interview process got too far, but I think you need to be prepared for that possibility rather than approaching the situation like the consultant you are right now and looking for ways to negotiate the scope of work.

      3. Ops Analyst*

        Can you clarify something you said here? Your previous job was doing work that is the same as this role or different? Are you saying entry level works because you don’t have experience working in this type of business except for the part-time job that was identical or that you do have experience in this business from the previous job? I’m not exactly sure what you were trying to say but I could be reading it weird.

        It really doesn’t matter whether your experience is not with a “normal business of this type” or not. What matters is that you have experience, which makes you not entry level. Unless you’re saying your experience is completely different and not applicable (like a career change) except for the bit of similar work you did in the part time job you mentioned, in which case, I don’t think you’re as much of a shoe-in as you seem to think you are.

        1. Ops Analyst*

          I apparently hadn’t refreshed in a while. I didn’t see your response just above LW until after I submitted.

        2. Zillah*

          What matters is that you have experience, which makes you not entry level.

          A lot of commenters seem to be fixating on this, and I’m honestly a little confused by it. We talk on here all the time about how “entry level” doesn’t really seem to mean “entry level” anymore – many jobs that are theoretically entry level are still asking for 1-3 years of experience. Maybe having experience should make you not entry level, but I’m not sure if it actually does anymore.

          1. Ops Analyst*

            Yeah, you definitely have a point. I was thinking a bit about this. It could be the case. I guess there is something about OPs letter that made it sound, to me, as if he/she had more than 1-3 years experience. I feel like I’ve also read on here a number of times that even if you’re a career changer, you’re not entry level if you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time. It sounds like OP has been in the workforce for at least 2 years.

            1. Zillah*

              I can definitely see that – she came across that way to me initially, too, though some follow-up comments have made me think that maybe that’s not the case.

              I think the specifics probably matter a lot here. If your experience is limited to a few short stints in your desired field along with some admin/retail work, I can see looking for an entry level position.

  5. Oryx*

    I was interviewing for a FT position that works weird shifts. The final stage was me and two other people, neither of whom wanted FT so they were going to split PT and one work mornings, the other evenings. Guess who they hired?

    Alison is right, if they want FT then you aren’t solving their problem, you’re actually *creating* a much bigger problem because if the job really does require FT work then now they have to find another person to do the additional work. Why would they want to go through all of that when they can just hire one person and one person only?

  6. fposte*

    Setting aside the “is this the job for you” question–it looks like it’s not that you only want the job if it’s part-time, it’s that you’d have to hold off full time until, say, August, which I think is a very different thing. I think it’s still a tough hill to get over, but it’s not as impassable as asking to make a position part-time, period. What I’d need to hear from you if you were pitching this accommodation is what part-time means in terms of hours and availability (30 hours a week is very different from 5) and a firm commitment to a date you’ll go full time, whether the contracts run late or not.

    1. job seeking LW*

      Yes, I think this wasn’t as clear as it could be in my letter, judging from some of the other responses. I’m not averse to full-time, assuming it’s the right job. (If I find out more and see that it’s *not* the right job then I don’t need it and I will leave my name and number for the future and politely drop out of consideration right away.) But even if it’s the *perfect* job, I physically cannot commit to several months of overtime until my current projects are done, nor would it be fair to those current clients. So if they do want me, I can do part-time until those are done and then move up to full-time, or if they don’t want me enough for that, then c’est la vie I go back to my plan as before and again leave my name and number in case things change in the future. Giving specifics on availability and timelines is very doable and very good advice.

      1. Amtelope*

        I doubt it’s a matter of how much they want you, though. If we were hiring right now for a full-time position, there’s no way we could hire someone who had to work part-time until the end of summer, even if they were a rock star and we really wanted them. Because if we did, half the work wouldn’t get done for six months, which would be an impossible situation.

        1. job seeking LW*

          Right, but I have no way of knowing if that’s the same situation at this firm (it wasn’t at my last two places of employment where a lack of qualified people meant that you made the most of the best people you had available, which sucked sometimes but was just the reality)–it depends a lot on the nature of the business and the nature of the work. Submitting an application and getting an interview is a good way for me to find that out.

          1. Snoskred*

            Yes, you *do* have a way of knowing what the situation is. The job ad is looking for someone FULL TIME. There is your clue. Job advertisers do not advertise part time jobs as full time. If they were looking for someone part time, it would say PART TIME.

            With that said, it sounds like you’re just going to steamroll along anyway, so my thought is you need to be committed to saying to your part time people sorry, no can do what I already agreed to do because my perfect job has arrived and it is full time.

            Submitting an application in order to find out what the job ad clearly states WILL damage you with this employer and you can forget any future chance of a job with them. :(

            So if you really want to take this risk, I believe you better be prepared to do full time regardless of what your commitments presently are.

            1. Zillah*

              Wow. This seems a little harsh and aggressive, and I’m not really sure why – I don’t think the OP has come off as disrespectful or rude.

              It’s true that there’s often a lot less room for flexibility in PT/FT status than there is for most other aspects of jobs – e.g., pay, vacation time, flex hours, whatever. And, if by PT the OP means 3 days a week, I completely agree. But, if the OP is talking about, say, 30 hours rather than 35 hours, it might be worth applying and bringing up.

              1. Snoskred*

                I have to disagree with you – the OP even states themselves below they have been defensive and irritated with the responses here.


                I agree with you that “part time” is not well defined here. I have worked part time jobs that were 3 hours a week. I have worked part time jobs that were 30 hours a week.

                Never have I applied for a full time job and expected that the employer would want and love me so much that I could demand a part time job – as a surprise to the employer when I knew I had other commitments from the get-go – instead of the full time job they advertised and I applied for..

                If I have applied for a full time job I have been available to do a full time job. If at a later time there is some wiggle room I’ve been flexible with my availability however I have found that employers rarely return this flexibility, they are concerned with their business needs and if my needs do not fit in with their needs, that is usually an unworkable situation for them.

                I just think the OP needs to realise they could seriously damage a potentially great relationship with this employer by not being up front about their situation. I’m sorry if that came across as harsh, it was not intended to be harsh, my intent was to speak clearly about what the results could be.

                1. job seeking LW*

                  For the record, I am ignoring this and all other comments which are deliberately interpreting me as being demanding and entitled, when I believe I was very clear at all points that this is not what I’m doing. I find these responses rude and inappropriate (not to mention completely irrelevant and unhelpful as they are responding to an issue which does not exist because this is *not* what I have described doing) which is why I have chosen not to engage with them.

                2. Zillah*

                  Never have I applied for a full time job and expected that the employer would want and love me so much that I could demand a part time job – as a surprise to the employer when I knew I had other commitments from the get-go – instead of the full time job they advertised and I applied for..

                  Well, no. Of course not. But that’s not what the OP is describing here.

                  Look, honesty is important. I agree, and the OP clearly agrees – that’s why they wrote in. Asking how to broach whether working PT for a few months while they finish other commitments is possible isn’t the same thing as “demanding” a part time job, any more than broaching the possibility of telecommuting or a higher salary than the initial offer is demanding that.

                3. LBK*

                  It’s kind of frustrating to have you assume that people are “deliberately” interpreting your comments a certain way because we’re all strangers who have no reason to think any particular way about you. What reason would we possibly have to “deliberately” read you a certain way?

                  Have you considered that maybe that’s how you’re coming off, even if you don’t think you are? If you say “I’m not demanding or entitled” and then proceed to outline a situation in which it seems like you’re acting demanding and entitled…your actions are speaking louder than your words.

  7. job seeking LW*

    Thank you for your fast response to my question, Alison.

    Re: the entry level position question. I understand the concern here. It was described as entry level in the job posting, but actually I’m not too concerned about this. My field is very new and still fairly small, and in this city I’d be surprised if this posting got more than a dozen applications from qualified candidates. Many people who get into this field end up doing so by moving sideways from other jobs where they have some relevant skills but zero specific experience, so while in a larger field I might be considered overqualified, in this case I believe that I will be seen as an asset who requires less on-the-job orientation and who is already committed to continuing on in this area. I would not be surprised if the entry-level descriptor is there because it’s simply difficult to find people who *aren’t* entry-level in their qualifications. I also do not feel overqualified at all–I’ve got lots and lots of training and experience in the straight technical skills, but I’ve still only spent a little bit of time really working in the field in this specific context and I strongly feel that this is is the kind of experience I need right now. Short version: in this particular field, “entry level” doesn’t mean as much as other more well-established fields.

    To the other advice, thank you, and that makes sense and is a good way to bring it up, especially because I think that is the way I feel about it. It would be great if it worked out and I really want it if they want me, but the reality is that I’m not fully available right away if that’s what their need is. I definitely wouldn’t apply if I didn’t want to make it work *somehow*. I felt guilty though because in the past I’ve never had considerations like this–it’s always been “if you want me, I am 100% available on whatever timeframe meets your needs”. Even if the full-time position doesn’t work out, I will still offer my services as a part-time subcontractor for overflow work, which was my original plan before I saw the posting.

    1. Amtelope*

      Reading this, I’m still not clear whether you’d be willing to take the job full-time if that’s the only option — I’m not sure how to weigh “the reality is that I’m not fully available right away” and “I definitely wouldn’t apply if I didn’t want to make it work.” If you already know you aren’t willing to work full time, I don’t think it’s a good idea to apply for this job (unless you disclose that in your cover letter). The possibility of burning your bridges with this company by making them feel they’ve wasted their time interviewing you seems really high.

      1. job seeking LW*

        I clarified above, but I’ll say again that it’s not a question of “willingness” to work full-time, it’s a question of availability. I would not be asking to make a F/T position P/T forever–rather, if they want me, then I need to be able to work P/T only *until* my availability changes in about five months from now. (And if that doesn’t work for them, I understand.) It’s definitely awkward, but it’s also something I’m likely to encounter all the time if I keep freelancing to pay bills while looking for more stable work. I can’t guarantee that my contracts will always line up nicely with prospective employers’ timelines.

        1. Amtelope*

          Well, good luck. In my own field, being available full-time five months from now is the same as not being available full-time — no one who’s interviewing now can afford to wait that long. But I’m sure there are other industries where hiring on that kind of time scale is the norm.

        2. Gobrightbrand*

          I think you may be over-estimating your chances of getting the position and their desire to want you so much over other candidates that they’d be willing to work with your availability. Not that you’ve actually indicated that you would, but I would also warn that I think saying these type of things to the potential employer is going to come across as tone deaf.

          I would highly recommend not applying for this role unless you’re willing to drop the freelance work.

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          It’s definitely awkward, but it’s also something I’m likely to encounter all the time if I keep freelancing to pay bills while looking for more stable work. I can’t guarantee that my contracts will always line up nicely with prospective employers’ timelines.

          So, the first thing that jumps to mind is, how many permanent positions are you willing to pass up because they don’t line up with a contract timeline? Especially if they only come along an average of once a year? I think you should also be looking at this from the perspective of, “what options do I have for wrapping up or handing off these freelance contracts if a full time opportunity comes along that I can’t afford to pass up?”

          1. job seeking LW*

            It’s a good point. I can’t fast-forward the timelines because one is a short timeline anyway (done at the end of May, the rest of my time over the next couple months is already committed) and the other is timed to the school calendar so I won’t have anything to work with until after the current school year is done at the end of June. The sooner project could theoretically be handed off if I had someone I trusted available right away, but I don’t and it would take longer to find someone and vet them than it would to just finish it. The summer project can’t be handed off–it’s based on a very specific relationship I have with those clients. I can give them the heads-up that we can’t work together for the foreseeable (I’ve already raised that eventuality with them in the past), but I can’t leave them in the lurch. It would be unethical. I always try to keep the bigger picture in mind when I plan my projects, but there’s only so much I can predict. Colleagues of mine have ended up in similar predicaments and relied on flexibility from their new employers, so I know it’s something that’s hard to avoid.

            1. Ops Analyst*

              I think it’s possible that the sooner project might not be a problem if it’s only through the end of May. That may be nearing a close by the time this hiring process is done.

              As for the other project, it’s only March, would you really be leaving them in a lurch for work that won’t start for another 3 months? I get that you’re saying that it’s based on a very specific relationship you have with them, but what would they have done if you weren’t available to begin with? It’s not entirely unethical if you give them enough notice and explain the situation. You may also be able to speed up a timeline with new company hiring process if they know you need to give significant notice to get out of a different project that has a delayed start date.

              1. job seeking LW*

                I’m uncomfortable giving more specifics because I feel like we’re venturing into the realm of disclosing identifying information, but both contracts are signed and underway. The second one is a year-long project. A hand-off would not work at this point.

                1. Ops Analyst*

                  If the second one is a year long project that doesn’t begin until the end of the school year, how will you be available to work full time by August of this year?

                  Not intending to be deliberately obtuse, but I feel like there is a lot of conflicting information. I must be missing something.

    2. LBK*

      I definitely wouldn’t apply if I didn’t want to make it work *somehow*.

      But you don’t want to make it work “somehow”, you want to make it work in the way that favors you. This isn’t a compromise between you and the company, it’s an ultimatum.

      I suppose it’s hard without being able to understand what you do, but unless this is an insanely niche role where they might just have to hire anyone that seems competent, I don’t see how you have the bargain chips available to make this kind of request. It’s all about accommodating you, the company gets nothing out of it (again, assuming they have a choice between you and others rather than you or no one).

      1. Zillah*

        I agree with you in terms of the specifics – the ask is a big one – but I think that this is an argument that we should be careful of, because it can ultimately be applied to pretty much anything – flextime, extra pay, extra vacation, WFH, etc, are also all about accommodating you and not getting anything out of it if they have a choice between you and others.

        1. LBK*

          I don’t think adjusting total work hours is the same as adjusting when or where those hours occur or how much you get paid for them, though. A full-time job can still be accomplished in 4 10-hour days or from home or for $5k more than originally offered, but it’s rare that it can be accomplished in 20 hours unless the company just had a really bad handle on how much work the role requires.

          Those are also more standard accommodations that many employers make on their own without the employee even having to negotiate it – someone asking me for an extra week of vacation during offer negotiation isn’t out of the ordinary. A great candidate who asks for that isn’t likely to be bumped in favor of a decent one who won’t require the extra vacation, but a great candidate who can’t actually fill the role completely? That’s a lot more of an inconvenience for me and it’s a much more unusual request.

          1. Zillah*

            You’re right, it isn’t the same, and it’s absolutely a more unusual request. I’m not sure what PT would mean here, but if the OP would be asking for anything less than four days a week, it seems almost certain to me to be out of the question. However, this:

            But you don’t want to make it work “somehow”, you want to make it work in the way that favors you.

            is a much broader statement, and the idea behind it can easily be applied to just about anything else an applicant might ask for. I think the issue is that it’s a huge ask that likely won’t be doable, not that the OP wants to make this work in a way that favors them. I mean, who doesn’t?

    3. nona*

      “Short version: in this particular field, “entry level” doesn’t mean as much as other more well-established fields.”

      OK, good to know.

      I would normally say that you don’t have anything to lose by applying. However much time you spend writing a cover letter and working on your resume, that’s it. But if this is a small field (?), and you might want to work for this company later, you might want to be careful about the impression that you give them. And they might jump to some conclusions based on an attempt to turn a full-time position into a part-time one.

  8. sittingduck*

    I do not think you should apply for this job unless you are willing to commit to it the way it is posted. They are looking for a F/T employee – and even if you feel like you are the best person in the world suited for this job, so they should make an exception for you and let you work part time – you might not be right. Just because you feel you are perfectly suited for the job, doesn’t mean they will agree, particularly since you feel they should bend their employee needs to fit your personal schedule. Companies hire to fill a need they have, not to fill a need an potential employee has (aka wanting to work for the company.)

    I have a unique perspective on ‘being the perfect candidate for the job’ mentality. I applied for a job last year that I *knew* I was the perfect candidate for. I had a connection to the company, I had done some vaguely similar work before, I had a network that the company would be interested in. I had a conversation with my future boss, before even being invited for an interview about how I would be awesome for the job. I rocked the interview, still *knew* i was perfect for the job – and then I didn’t get the job. I was crushed. 4 months later the company had another opening and thought of me, and offered me the job on the spot. I accepted and now work here, in a totally different position. I work very closely with the person who got the job I originally applied for, and I can now see how she was so much better qualified and how I would hate to have her job. The job, that from the outside I *knew* i’d be perfect for, from the inside is obviously not right for me.

    Perspective is everything, and I’m lucky that the company knew what it wanted and needed and hired her instead of me, because I would be miserable in that job.

    Companies really do know what they need better than applicants do.

    This particular job at this company doesn’t sound right for you. The timing is off, the requirements don’t meet your availability, and I think that you risk making a bad impression by pretending you want the job as they advertised it, only to change it up once they offer you a position. That’s sneaky and not qualities employers want.

    If you want to form a relationship with the company, do that – but not through applying for a job that you really don’t want/can’t do right now. Reach out and do informational interviews, offer to consult for them if they need it, etc. But please don’t take an entry level job away from someone else who probably needs it, and wants it just as much as you do, and is willing to do it their way.

    Good luck.

    1. job seeking LW*

      You’re right, and if they do not want to hire me, then I will trust their judgement. I don’t think I’m a “perfect” candidate though. I know a number of people who can do what I do (or better), although none of them happen to be unemployed and living in this city. But I’m sure there *are* people here like that and I just haven’t met them yet! But I also know from direct experience and from communicating with other established people in my field that I have qualifications which are very desirable and hard to come by in this field (which, I have explained in other replies, is relatively small and usually does not have *enough* qualified people in it in a given location). So I am being realistic about my options, not over-confident. I don’t assume that I will get the job offer, but I have more than reasonable grounds to know that I’m a desirable candidate. As for taking away someone’s entry-level job opportunity, not really–I don’t agree that I don’t deserve an opportunity to work or that I’m too qualified for entry-level jobs in my field.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Have you considered instead of applying for the job, approaching them about contract work? If the specialty is so limited, they might be able to hire someone else for the FT position and you for contracting, and then just let them know that when the stars align you would be open to coming onboard in a FT position. Or, continue consulting, as it sounds like that model is working very well in your life right now.

      2. Museum Educator*

        As someone who is in a very small field and knows *exactly* how you are feeling, let me tell you a few things.

        1) I guarantee you that there are other people exactly like you who are thinking the exact same thing that you are: that there are no other (or very few others) in the area who do what you do. There are, I promise you, even if you don’t know it. Especially if you’re talking entry level.

        2) There *are* people who don’t have the specific experience in your field who have extremely applicable skills, and they will be top candidates. In fact, they will be more appealing to the employer simply because they are available in a way that you are not.

        3) In a really small field, people will be applying from all over and be willing to relocate for the position. In my experience, in such a small field, being a local candidate does not often outweigh a non-local candidate that is better suited and willing to relocate on their own dime.

        In other words, if you really want the job, you should be prepared to take it full time. You can certainly ASK if you can fulfill your current responsibilities, but be prepared to let them go if the employer isn’t willing to wait for that. The *absolutely will* have another option. If you are not willing to take it full time, I really don’t think you should bother. At entry level, you really don’t have the experience, even as a specialist, to expect such accommodations. I think you’re totally wasting the employers time and risk coming off as incredibly arrogant to apply for something knowing in advance that you have no intention of agreeing to the specified expectations of the role.

        1. job seeking LW*

          Thank you for understanding my position and I’ll take what you say to heart. I know I’m not *guaranteed* the job (and was careful never to claim that), but I still feel that I have a good shot. I’ve been prepared from the get-go that they can say no. I just needed some guidance on approaching it in the most effective way possible. Unfortunately I cannot let go of my current contracts–there is no one else available to finish them and to fail to finish them would severely undermine and compromise my current client’s organization. It would be a pretty terrible breach of contract and burn every bridge I have in my previous location.

          1. Museum Educator*

            I get it. I’ve done a lot of consultant work building my skills and reputation in a small field. In fact, when I was 7 months pregnant I came across a position that I thought would be perfect for me but I knew I wouldn’t be available to do it for at least another 5 months. Being in a small field and living in an area where I was pretty sure there weren’t a lot of people with my skills, I thought I might be able to use that to my benefit (similar to how you are thinking). I emailed the hiring manager directly and explained the situation before applying and asked if it would work for them. I included my resume to let her review it. She wrote me back and she was very interested and encouraged me to apply. I didn’t get the position, but not because of my availability. It just turned out not to be as good of a fit as I initially thought.

            However, I was right that I was a strong enough candidate that they would still be interested and the hiring manager appreciated my effort to reach out and discuss in advance rather than potentially wasting her time. So here’s the thing. If you truly are that rare and that good of a fit, it will not harm you to be honest in your cover letter or to reach out in advance and express your interest but explain that you have some other commitments you need to see through.

            I really would recommend you think about taking that approach. It may really pay off in a way that being sneaky (so to speak) about it won’t.

            1. job seeking LW*

              Well, it really wasn’t my intent to be sneaky. I have submitted the application already, but if I get a call/email back then with interest, I can consider bringing it up then even before the interview. I’ve gotten some conflicting advice on this though, so I’m not sure. I think I have a reasonable chance of getting the offer, but I’m by no means confident that I’m the *only* good applicant.

              Part of the issue is that I have a history of self-sabotaging compulsive over-sharing. I’ve lost a couple of job opportunities (as a student, before I was in my current field) by presenting overly negative information up front and then later realizing that perhaps I didn’t need to introduce myself that way and could let some of my good qualities through first before barreling in with negativity.

              1. Museum Educator*

                I guess the thing that seems strange is that you think you have a good, reasonable chance of getting the offer when you haven’t even been called for an interview yet. There is just no way to know that and I think it’s those kinds of statements that make it sound like you’re being unrealistic, naive, and not completely honest with yourself about the situation. You really just can’t know that at this stage at all.

                As to the over sharing, I think we have all been in positions like that. Last year I bombed an interview because I way overshared about my personal life and I didn’t even realize the mistakes I made until much later. It was a big learning experience for me. However, that is not the same as telling an employer up front about your availability. Being honest about your availability is not an over-share, its just a situational fact. If they believe you are good enough to look past your limited, but short-term, availability, it’s not going to deter them from considering you long-term. If it is a real problem for them, it’s not going to matter when you tell them. It’ll be a problem at any point. It’s not information that is likely to actually change the outcome. If they are able to delay a full time start for the right candidate, they already know that. If they really need someone to start full time right away then it won’t matter how good you are. They either can wait for full time or they can’t. It’s really that simple.

                And just to clarify, I didn’t mean to insult you by calling it sneaky. I just meant that you’re essentially hiding key information that they really need to know in order to move forward with the people that best fill their needs. They will potentially be wasting their time if your availability doesn’t work for them and they don’t know it. I agree with other posters that it’s ok to apply for a position like this when you’re in the middle of part time work that you took in order to get by until something full time comes along. But you need to be honest about your availability. And don’t forget that this is something you chose. It’s actually something you wanted. You committed to these part time contracts with no intention of seeking full time work while you did them. So it seems especially disingenuous to not tell an employer that you’re not available the way they need you to be until you’re much further along in the process. It’s pretty misleading and I think it would show a lot of integrity to say “I made these commitments but when I came across this job I was so interested in it that I had to see if we could work something out.” Otherwise I’d be wondering why the hell you didn’t bring it up sooner and I would honestly question whether I could trust you not to color the truth in order to get what you want.

                It’s just not the same as over-sharing your faults. It’s worth noting that even in then you should be honest about your limitations in order to make sure you’re really a fit for the job.

                1. job seeking LW*

                  I don’t really agree with your first point. If being realistic that it wouldn’t be a great shock to me if I received an offer (because obviously I need to plan for that eventuality–the other possible outcomes aren’t things I require input on, I already know how to handle rejection) is coming off as naive I guess that’s good to be aware of, but that’s very odd to me given that I know it’s not true. The reason I believe this is not baseless optimism, it’s past experience, both my own and vicarious through my peers who are in the same field. Again, I’m not saying that I *expect* to receive the offer. Just that it’s reasonable enough to expect that I might that I want to be prepared for the possibility. We’re not talking a 1 in 1,000 chance here–more like 1 in 20.

                  On the second point, it’s not that I’m not going to disclose my availability, it’s deciding *when*–in the past, opening up first thing with “hey, so I’m only available at this time, but…” led me to being dismissed before I was even considered. (These were both low-stakes summer jobs, but it was still a lesson learned.) Obviously I do it before the offer is made and obviously before substantial effort has been invested on their part. But that still left me with a lot of grey area, including the “in the cover letter or not in the cover letter?” issue, which the discussion here has helped me address. I do really appreciate your perspective here and I think it will be valuable to me in navigating this.

                2. Museum Educator*

                  Of course you should be optimistic. There’s no point in applying for a job that you’re not optimistic about. But what you said here is not what you said earlier. Feeling you have a good, reasonable chance of getting an offer is different than thinking about how you’d handle it if you do get an offer. One is optimistic and the other is naive. From personal experience, no matter how suited you think you are to a job or how limited the field is or even when you’re offering a specialized skill set, I can tell you that none of that means anything and until you have an actual interview, speak with the employers about what they are truly looking for, and reach the offer stage. Before that you really can’t know whether you have a good, reasonable chance of getting it, especially when you’re still at the point that you’ve had no actual dialogue with the company. It doesn’t matter how optimistic you are.

                  And let’s be honest here, this thread is not about how you will handle the offer. It’s about how you handle yourself before you get to the offer stage. All this advice here is so that you can get to that point to begin with. You may be a shoe-in for this role, but you may completely blow it if you don’t handle the availability issue in a way that the employer feels good about.

                  You seem to be deliberately missing what I was saying. My whole post was about *when* you should disclose, not that you weren’t going to disclose it at all. What you’re really not getting here is that when you were dismissed in the past for availability reasons it was not because you disclosed it early, it was because that wouldn’t work for them. I can almost guarantee that had you waited that employer would have been annoyed to go through a full interview process only to find out you can’t meet their availability. And you risk that here to, only not with low-stakes summer jobs. Here you’re risking it with a company that you don’t want to burn a bridge with. The negotiation stage, as you referred to it in your letter, typically takes place after the offer, despite the fact that you’ve said that you don’t plan to wait until the offer. (I think that may be lending to some of the confusion, by the way.) You have a lot of people here telling you that you need to inform the employer early but you don’t seem to want to hear that. You just keep making excuses about why you should reveal late. So, I don’t really understand what you were hoping to figure out here.

                  There are a lot of people telling you that you’re really risking something huge by doing that as well as telling you that its a silly risk to take because the information isn’t likely to sway the employers position since they will either be able to wait for you or they won’t, regardless of when you tell them. Not trying to be hard on you or make you feel bad. However, I think your defensiveness (that you mentioned later in the thread) may be getting in the way of really hearing what people are saying to you and thinking about this clearly. I promise you, everyone here is trying to help you succeed. They are not here just to argue with you.

                3. LBK*

                  Agreed 100% with Museum Educator. I don’t think it’s a problem to apply but you need to be more upfront about your availability. I also agree that if it’s a problem, it’s a problem – it doesn’t matter if you tell them in the first interview or after the offer, it’s not going to change whether they’ll be able to make the accommodation or not.

                  On the second point, it’s not that I’m not going to disclose my availability, it’s deciding *when*–in the past, opening up first thing with “hey, so I’m only available at this time, but…” led me to being dismissed before I was even considered. (These were both low-stakes summer jobs, but it was still a lesson learned.)

                  But my understanding is that you’re in an industry now where you wouldn’t be so easily dismissed for something like that, right? I get that if you’ve been burned by something before then you’ll be naturally hesitant to do it again, but I think you need to mentally separate out those jobs and this one (again, this is all based on your own explanation of the new industry wherein the size of the field and number of candidates makes this more reasonable than it would be if the company had a bigger pool).

    2. MK*

      The OP is not taking anything from anyone, not only because it’s the company’s decision, but also because no one has a claim to the job, just because they are willing to work full-time.

      1. Zillah*

        This. That statement really bothered me – it’s the OP’s job to look out for herself. This job may not be right, and maybe she shouldn’t apply, but that choice needs to be made on its own merits.

  9. Joey*

    Sorry, but the goal is to find a job that meets your needs and show the company how you’ll best fill them, not request that companies change their jobs to fit your needs.

  10. LizNYC*

    I’d also caution about taking on a FT position when you’re already committed to two PT contracts (I know you wanted PT for the office role, but in case you were wavering). I’m incredibly fortunate to have a FT job, plus a few freelance clients. When all three hit last week with deadlines within a day or two of each other, I had to remind myself that this kind of crunch time was rare (and to up the caffeine the next day at my day job).

    I’d say you should stick to your original plan, and get to know the people who work for this organization through other means, whether that’s coffee or joining organizations (you mentioned volunteering) where these people are likely to be (if it’s easy to parse). Plus, it sounds like you really need a respite after your last job. Bad Job PTSD is a real thing (if not an official diagnosis) and you owe it to yourself to get some breathing room.

    1. job seeking LW*

      Thank you. :) Yes, I definitely won’t commit to anything that will be bad for my health, even if it means having to miss out on new opportunities. I think my original plan is solid, but I’ve only seen two really good job postings come up in this city over the last two years (including this one), so it feels a bit risky to let this one go without trying. Creating professional relationships here will likely tune me into more opportunities than just the formal job postings, but not even submitting an application feels a lot like giving up when I might not need to and I’d hate to be kicking myself over it later on. If it doesn’t feel right after the first contact, then I’ll bow out on my own accord though.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        check out parfait’s comment below from 3:11 pm (ooh, 3:11 on 3/11, spooky). He/she made a great point you might find helpful.

  11. Stephanie*

    I do know someone who works PT at a big local desirable employer, but she bumped down to PT after she had her child. It sounded like it was an arrangement made after she proved she was a high performer (in possibly a hard-to-fill role).

    I think, too, the working your way up from entry-level (when you’re overqualified, that is) isn’t the greatest strategy sometimes. Even if the company is amenable to that, it might not play out quite the way you want. I’m in sort of a similar boat–I needed money and took a stopgap job at a company I’m interested in. Company is very pro-promotions…on their time frame. The topic of my long-term goals came up with my boss and she was all for referring me to things more in line with my background and skills, but she said I’d have to wait at least year per company policy. So you might end up stuck in that entry-level job (probably bored, tbh) for longer than you’d like.

    Since it sounds like you’re ok financially and work-wise, why don’t you just subscribe to job alerts from the company and keep looking? You could also try to network with people in the company like suggested above.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I work with someone who hired on PT in an almost-exclusively FT position, and similarly, she was a proven performer. She had worked for the company twice before over 15 years, but only wanted PT for family reasons. I think special arrangements (PT, telecommute) are much easier for people who have a long history with the company and are known to be good employees. A request like that coming from an brand new entry-level applicant would seem misguided to me.

  12. Parfait*

    Sometimes hiring can take a really long time. It’s already March. If you get an offer in June, saying “I can start on a part-time basis right now, and full time starting August 1” might actually not be a deal-breaker. You started contracting on a short-term basis while you were looking for longer-term employment. You couldn’t have anticipated that this opportunity would appear so soon. That’s a respectable reason to ask for a delayed start date. It’s worth a shot.

    1. fposte*

      That’s what I was thinking–if the prospective employer hires at the speed of my employer, this would be quite likely to be negotiable.

    2. shep*


      Totally concur. I applied for my current position in February of 2014, was called for an interview in May, got the offer in June, and started in August of 2014.

      If this is a position you are genuinely interested in taking on full-time in a few months, it’s not wildly implausible that the hiring process could end up looking something like this. Hiring is so variable that this isn’t unreasonable for you to take into consideration.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I recently started a new job (just this week), and I originally applied for it (supposedly an “immediate fill” position) back in November. Five months is absolutely not out of the realm of possibility for a hiring timeline.

    3. job seeking LW*

      It is a good point. It’s probably not going to be the case, alas. It’s a small firm and I doubt there’s going to be a lot of paperwork associated with the new position, not like going through a hiring manager and multiple rounds of interviews and screenings like at some big companies. In the past, my start dates have been as early as the day after the interview for someone who just picked up a new contract and needed extra hands on deck right away. It’s probably something similar here, but without actually asking it’s hard to gauge the urgency and whether there will be any flexibility or not. It may be a case that they can’t hire me for the current position because they really need someone to be F/T right away, no exceptions, but will call me up the next time they need to bring someone else on. In that case, the interview time isn’t wasted–just invested for a future date.

      1. job seeking LW*

        Ah ha! I did double-check the posting though, and there is no specific start date listed, so that gives me more comfort about negotiating that point and a way of gracefully bringing up the discussing of availability/schedules in the interview itself.

        1. LBK*

          I would actually read that the other way – in my experience a lack of an exact start date in the posting usually indicates ASAP, because that’s the default starting timeline. A start date is usually only listed if it’s going to be later than ASAP (i.e. it’s contingent on the company winning a contract for work that won’t begin for another 3 months, so you won’t start until then).

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Gaaaah. I somehow didn’t process that the OP will be available for full-time work in August. I definitely agree with what you’ve written here, in light of that.

      That said, I still question if this is really the right role.

  13. Sunflower*

    You should just reach out the company and connect with them. Don’t apply for the position. I don’t foresee a lot of good coming out of it.

    1. You’d need to phrase your availability the way Allison said or bring it up at the beginning. They are going to be PISSED if you bring up that you only have part-time availability at the end. Like really pissed. However, I think they are going to scratch their heads even if you do that. I would just think it’s strange to apply for a job you know you can’t do, especially if it’s entry-level where there is usually little room to negotiate.
    2. All these things you think make you an asset, ring in the employer’s ears the opposite. I just went through an interview process where 6 different people questioned me about why and if I could do a job that I was obviously overqualified for. Honestly, I really wanted the job and would have been more than happy to take the step back since it was a great company I’d been trying to get into. I think I ended up biting myself in the butt though. Whereas I heard from my mouth ‘yes, I have experience with all of this and more. This stuff is like cake to me’, they just heard ‘she’s going to be bored, she’ll leave soon’.

    I think you should cold call or find a connection through the group. Reach out and mention you saw the job posting and think your skills match up but you are only available to work part-time. Ask about other opportunities. If they want to adjust the position, they will. If not, it doesn’t come off as presumptuous and you aren’t asking anyone to change anything for you.

  14. Armchair Analyst*

    The one time I applied for a full-time job, and got an interview, and asked for it to be part-time or with a flexible start date… I was 8 months pregnant. And unemployed. I felt extremely lucky, and I guess the company did, too.

    However… although I was there ~18 months or so, with many openings, I was never considered more than casual part-time and I ended up leaving for a full-time job somewhere else.

  15. LBK*

    After reading the letter and the follow up comments, I can’t see how this isn’t acting in bad faith. You’re basically holding a torch up to your bridge to these people and hoping they’re going to put it out for you – if they don’t opt for the part-time plan, the odds of them ever considering you for another position are low. How are they ever going to be able to trust you through another interview process where you might once again tell them at the end that you actually can’t do the job they’re hiring for? This isn’t a case of not being able to come to an agreement on salary, you’re asking for a considerable accommodation that you know is a requirement in order for you to accept the offer.

    The risk is personally too high for my tolerance. I think you need to genuinely weigh it out and decide if you think your chances are high enough to balance the potential cost to your future chances with them. I also think if you go forward with it, you need to do as much probing during the interview process as possible to get a sense if they truly need a full-time person immediately. That you can remove yourself from consideration if needed before the offer stage.

  16. job seeking LW*

    It was never my goal to submit to an advice column and then get so defensive and frustrated with the advice I’ve received. I don’t think that’s appropriate and it sits poorly with me because I’d like to be a lot more gracious than that. I also accept that there was an unintentional lack of clarity in my original submission that seems to have set people off on impressions that aren’t inaccurate to my present situation and have led to some misunderstandings. Some of that is honest-to-goodness differences in experience too. I get that there are people here who work in very different contexts from mine and that our experiences (and therefore advice) just aren’t going to line up always.

    But I am getting awfully tired of repeating myself and even more tired of reading my own irritated replies to people who I believe mean well, and some of whom have had some genuinely helpful things to offer to me (Allison included, for sure!). So thank you but I think it’s time for me to stop following the comments here and adding anymore clarifications because it feels like going around in circles at this point. It is what it is. Thank you to everyone who contributed and I hope the ensuing discussion has been and continues to be useful to people besides me.

    1. LBK*

      Well, I don’t know if you’re actually going to read this but just in case, I think part of the reason you keep getting the same answers is because people don’t think the counterarguments you’re making are valid. You either:

      a) Are in such a niche role that hiring norms don’t apply, in which case you’ll know your industry better than anyone here and there’s nothing we can do to help you, or
      b) Are in a role where hiring norms do apply, in which case what everyone is saying (that this is a huge ask and will potential reflect poorly on you) is accurate and no amount of further explanation will change that

      I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt up until this comment but it really sounds like you knew what you wanted to do from the beginning and were just looking for validation, which is really frustrating especially since this is a community known for great, pragmatic advice.

      1. river*

        I’m pretty sure I saw this OP posting about this issue in another forum recently and I got exactly the same impression from them there. :/

        1. Ops Analyst*

          There are other forums? Where? Please share.

          Not so I can go read what OP posted, but because I’d love to check out another forum.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ugh, sorry it was frustrating for you! If you’re up for reading one more, I just left a theory above about what might be causing the disconnect (possibly differing uses of the term “entry level”); not sure if that’s useful or not.

      1. job seeking LW*

        Well, I said all that, and then there were more replies that didn’t feel like going in circles, so I’m still here after all. I’m still not really sure where this huge gulf is happening (maybe partly cultural as well? I’m not American and my country is considerably smaller than the US), but I appreciate everyone’s effort, and yours in particular, thank you.

        1. Snoskred*

          I think one of the issues is your use of the term part time. Part time can mean anything – 3 hours a week up to 34 hours a week. I’ve done jobs where it has meant 3 hours. I’ve done jobs where it has meant 34.

          The second issue has been confusion and a lack of clarity with regards to the part time contracts and timing. How many actual hours would you need to put in with this part time contract that starts in June and would be finished by August?

          Is this contract more like something where you would need to work full time on it for a space of a couple of weeks and then after that you would only need to check in with it every now and again? If yes, that might be something you could negotiate with a new employer.

          I also think maybe you can negotiate full time 5 days a week back to 4 days a week if it only lasts until August.

          However I do not think you can negotiate a full time 5 days a week job down to one day or two days a week, no matter how amazing and awesome you might be. And if that is the situation I believe it is important to realise that not being upfront about the situation and trying to negotiate around your present commitments could seriously damage any future employment prospects you may have with this company.

          You said that you identified this company as one you would like to work with, you’ve said you just came from a 9-5 grind and you were wanting to focus on your mental and physical self care for a bit. You’ve made commitments which enable you to do that.

          To me, and clearly to others here, it does not sound like now is the right time for you to seek employment with this company you really would like to work with. It also seems risky to apply for a full time job which you know you presently cannot commit to. It would be better to be upfront and approach the company for part time work which they well might be open to.

          I also apologise if my previous post read as harsh, it was not intended to be. :)

          1. Ops Analyst*

            I don’t think your post above was harsh. I think it was straightforward. I think people are trying to give OP a bit of tough love but OP isn’t taking peoples opinions the way they were intended (i.e. accusatory rather than helpful advice).

            But I agree there are some confusing facts here. OP mentioned that his summer project would be over in August but later said it would be a year long project. If that’s the case I don’t think OP can ask to work part time for a year. It’s also not clear to me what part time would be. In the original letter he/she implied that doing this job full time would mean 60-70 hour work weeks which leads me to believe that OP is already committed to 20-30 hours of work per week, so I think that means working at new job for only 10-20 hours a week, which is kind of a big ask.

            I agree that there is a lot of confusion about this and for some reason OP hasn’t clarified.

  17. Persephone Mulberry*

    OP, on the off chance that you’ll check in one more time: I hope you will send Alison an update with what you decided to do and how it turns out for you. I don’t know how familiar you are with AAM, but we love updates, particularly if they turn out in the writer’s favor. :)

  18. infj*

    Im shocked how many people think this is a bad idea or that the employer would be annoyed at the prospect of a few months of part time before full time. We’ve been trying to fill an entry level niche role for nearly a year. We would definitely consider this scenario for the right candidate. And we’re a small office of 10 people. Even getting someone in part time would help take the pressure off of those of us who have been picking up the slack. Also as a side note, entry level here simply means more technical and not management. So anywhere from 0 to 7ish years of experience is fine and we have definitely had applicants who have been freelancing. And as a final side note, even when we’re desperate, hiring at our small firm takes months. So i would definitely apply if i were you, OP. We’ve made a few offers over the past months and all the applicants we made offers to had taken other jobs by then.

    1. job seeking LW*

      Thank you for the reassurance. I was starting to feel like I must be completely out of touch with reality, even though I’ve also checked in with a couple of my peers who have been in the same boat. (And, yes, that sounds a lot closer to my experience with “entry level”, phew.) In this scenario, how soon would you want to know about the candidate’s availability? The cover letter? In the interview itself?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I know you’ve already read my response below, but I would recommend leaving it out of the cover letter. Just as it’s tacky to mention salary in a cover letter (unless the job ad asks specifically for salary requirements), I think it’s almost (but not quite) as tacky to include “I can start on this date” in the cover letter. Too soon. But if they like your cover letter and résumé enough to do a phone screen, the phone screen you must absolutely let them know you can’t start right away. If you wait until the in-person interview to do it, you’re really doing a bait-and-switch on them.

    2. Ops Analyst*

      I think its more OPs willingness to mislead the company about his or her availability until almost the very end of the process that most people are having an issue with. You already know you’d be ok with that so it wouldn’t harm an applicant to be honest about it. But how would you feel if that wouldn’t work for your company and you got more than half way through the hiring process before finding out that one of your top candidates had not been forthright about their availability?

      1. Zillah*

        I think its more OPs willingness to mislead the company about his or her availability until almost the very end of the process that most people are having an issue with.

        But I don’t see how this is any different from waiting until the interview or offer stage to mention a planned vacation or medical procedure – we usually don’t accuse people who do that of “misleading” the company. I think that slamming the OP for this is a little like slamming somebody for not being “forthright” about their expectations for PTO or telecommuting. It sounds like the OP is trying to balance not shooting themself in the foot and not being disrespectful to the people at this firm. I don’t see the issue there, tbh.

        1. Sunflower*

          But most of the things you negotiate in a final offer are usually a reasonable request. A planned vacation doesn’t usually require you to push a start date back 5 months. Most employers when hiring are looking to fill positions asap, especially if it’s entry-level. What if you applied for a full-time job and got all the way to the offer stage before they said ‘oh by the way, you can’t start for 5 months’. Wouldn’t you be upset if the job posting didn’t state ‘position starts in x 2015’ if the company knew the whole time?

          1. Zillah*

            I’d agree with you… except that the OP doesn’t seem to want to get to the offer stage before revealing it – from their letter and follow-up comments, it doesn’t seem like waiting that late was ever their intention, and they’ve been struggling with exactly when to bring it up because they’re concerned about exactly what we’ve been talking about.

            For myself as a job seeker, I’d be incredibly irritated if it came up in the offer stage unless something had recently changed to make that the case… but I wouldn’t be remotely phased if it didn’t come up until my first interview.

        2. Ops Analyst*

          Personally, I think the difference is that the employer stated outright that it was a full-time position and the OP knows going in that he/she can’t fulfill that requirement. It’s a bit like applying for a delivery driver position and then waiting until getting all the way through hiring process before saying “Oh, by the way, I won’t have my drivers license for 5 months.” That’s different than saying “Oh, by the way, I will be out of town for a week for something I already planned.”

          1. Zillah*

            But the OP isn’t saying they can’t start for five months – just that they can’t work FT. I think that how much they can work is really important here (4 days may be worth asking; less than that, almost certainly not), but I think that makes it quite a bit different than your analogy of someone not being able to start for five months. And while it’s a big ask, it doesn’t seem like it’s necessarily an impossible one – even a few commenters here have said that they successfully negotiated a FT position to a PT one.

            I just really dislike the term “mislead” here, because as long as you’re representing yourself and your credentials accurately, I don’t think there’s much room for the concept in job searching. We’ve all expressed more enthusiasm about a job than we felt, and most people don’t tell their bosses when they’re looking for something better.

            The OP isn’t lying to anyone, and wrote in because they’re concerned about when to bring it up because they don’t want to be rude. This may be a big ask, but to say that the OP is out of line for being “misleading” seems off to me.

    3. LBK*

      But I think you have to consider that your scenario is a very rare one – most people here are going to come from a perspective that applies to the 99% of hiring scenarios where you aren’t just looking for any kind of help you can find, because that’s how they’ve hired and how they’ve been hired.

      OP, maybe I’ve haven’t made this clear in my comments but if you’re familiar enough with your industry that you’re confident it falls in the 1% of situations where a part-time schedule wouldn’t be an unreasonable request, I think you should absolutely do it. Do whatever is right for your career and trust your judgment. In terms of your frustration with mine and other comments here, remember that you’re writing in somewhere that’s going to give general advice that applies 99% of the time – if you work in a unique industry we can’t give you advice that’s specific to it, because we don’t even know what it is.

      Now, if the issue is that you’re waffling over whether you are actually in that 1% situation, here’s what I would say: if you’re sure that putting it in your cover letter or mentioning it up front would immediately disqualify you…then there’s your answer right there. If it’s a reasonable request for your industry, then I don’t see the harm in asking the question earlier in the process.

      1. Museum Educator*

        “if you’re sure that putting it in your cover letter or mentioning it up front would immediately disqualify you…then there’s your answer right there.”

        Yes! I was trying to say this above, but was a lot more long winded about it. This is exactly it. If it’s a disqualifying factor it will be the whole way through. If it really is that hard to find people to do this kind of work and OP really is one of few people who can do it, then that will be known upfront.

        1. LBK*

          The whole situation feels a little like when you tell someone you’re not interested in going on a date with them and they insist that if you just go out with them one time, they’ll show you why you should be together. It’s that same kind of “I believe if I can dazzle you enough you’ll change your mind about what you want” attitude – OP is hoping that if he gets a chance to interview, by the time the part-time request comes up they’ll already be so taken with him that it won’t matter. As with dating, that’s rarely how it works out.

          1. Museum Educator*

            Yeah, it is like that. Then imagine agreeing to go on that date and finding out at the end that the person begging for the date wasn’t actually available for a relationship for another 5 months??

            I was thinking the same thing about what OP is hoping. And it’s not that I don’t understand that hope. We all hope we can dazzle during our interviews and that they will want us so much that nothing would stand in the way. But in this particular circumstance its an hours issue. They can either deal with part time or they can’t. That’s known in advance.

          2. Zillah*

            But we advise people all the time not to bring up certain things until the offer stage – disability accommodations, planned vacations, standing appointments, telecommuting, etc, etc. Again, I agree that the ask is a big one, but to me, that’s the issue – it’s not that the OP is waiting to bring it up until the interview. (Not the job offer – I don’t believe they ever suggest that.)

  19. Anonymous Educator*

    A few years ago, I applied for a position, and they asked me when I could start (hoping to fill it right away). I let them know immediately in that first phone screen that I would not be able to start until four months later (that’s righ—four months). Even though they seemed to like me, they didn’t contact me again until two months later. I later learned, during those two months, they’d exhausted the rest of their candidate pool and found the pool wanting, so they came back to me. They asked again if there was any way I could start before mid-June. I told them I couldn’t (I was working at a school and wanted to finish out the school year, since schools tend to run on an academic calendar even if, legally speaking, we’re “at will” employees). So they just said, “Okay. We’ll wait.” And they did. My future boss worked majorly overtime to cover as much of the work I would have been doing until I got there.

    So I think people saying that there’s no way a company would wait five months for an employee are taking a bit of the agency away from the hiring manager(s). It’s up to the company to decide whether it can wait or not. That said, in the scenario above, I would not have felt comfortable at all giving the company the impression that I could have started right away… and then later telling them I couldn’t start until four months later. That’s something you have to disclose fairly quickly.

    To the OP, I would say that you don’t necessarily have to mention it in your cover letter, but as soon as you can in the first phone screen you should say that you can’t start for five months. That leaves it up to them to say “Okay, well we really need someone now” or “That may work.” In the best case scenario, with this approach, the company may decide they like you enough to wait but then say “Is there any way we can get you sooner?”—at which point, you can say “I may be able to work part-time until X date, if that will help.”

    That’s a far better way to approach it than to start off with the part-time request. My two cents.

  20. Zillah*

    OP, I can understand why you got frustrated – reading this thread, I got a little frustrated on your behalf.

    My personal philosophy is that if it’s a job that really speaks to you, it’s usually worth applying, especially if it’s in your area. It’s impossible to know what may change in your life between your application and a potential interview, or between an interview and an offer. You can’t lie or misrepresent your situation, of course, but I also don’t think it’s useful to try to anticipate what the hiring manager might be willing to budge on. If things don’t work out, you can always withdraw from the process or say no if you get an offer; as long as you’re respectful and frame it in the larger picture of your timelines matching up rather than the company not letting you get what you want, you shouldn’t feel like you have to shy away.

    1. LBK*

      I don’t think anyone here is necessarily disagreeing, it’s just a question of when the disclosure should happen. I think it needs to be long before the offer stage for something like this – as I mentioned in my reply to you above, I don’t see this as an accommodation on the level of a salary increase or WFH time. It’s a considerable change to the structure of the role, especially since based on the numbers OP has given it sounds like he’d only be able to commit about 20 hours a week – if it were 30-35 I might say that was less unreasonable, since that might only mean unloading one or two responsibilities of the role to someone else until you can commit full-time.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree that it should happen long before the offer stage, but I don’t think the OP ever suggested that they would wait that long. I guess that my issue is it seems to me like that I feel like people are getting on the OP’s case for daring to consider it at all, which doesn’t seem fair to me – and honestly also seems a little weird, considering how often we say that job ads often don’t reflect exactly what the job will be like and hiring managers can often bend a little on requirements.

        This is a big one, no question, but I feel like there have been a lot of wide, sweeping generalizations made by commenters here, and I don’t really get where it’s coming from.

        1. Ops Analyst*

          I think much got lost in the comments. In the original letter OP mentioned bringing it up at the “negotiation stage”. Even though he then said he meant before the offer it seemed clear he also meant after the interview. He also said in the comments somewhere that he’d do it at the end of the first major contact or later, which to me seems way too late. At that point there is already an expectation that the requirements of the job are understood. And he also said that if there was a lot of contact he’d mention it earlier, but then also became pretty insistent about not saying anything too soon because he’s worried that he’d over share.

          Personally I think that’s why there is so much confusion. It’s really not clear what OP is intending to do. I get that that’s why he wrote in, to get advice. But he also resisted or argued with nearly every piece of advice offered, which gave him an air of not really caring what anyone’s advice was. That may or may not be true but I think it’s possible he came off that way to others as well.

          Perhaps it’s unfair and I obviously don’t have any evidence beyond a feeling but I just don’t believe that OP is going to share this before the last minute. I don’t think he cares about how he’s perceived by the employer except as seeming like the ideal, perfect candidate, that they can’t do without and then once he achieves that, only then will he spring on them that he actually can’t work full time for a while. Which is basically a bait and switch, which no one responds well to under any circumstances. I know it’s an unfair assumption but if it’s an assumption I’m making I’m guessing others feel similar and it’s a big part of why people got so aggressive.

          I don’t think that’s fair to the OP. I agree with you that some of us, probably myself included, said some unfairly harsh things (though I did try to be tactful). However, I don’t agree at all that this is on the same level as negotiating benefits, etc. When you apply for a job it’s assumed that you understand the requirements as stated in the description and that if you’re not able to accomodate those requirements for any length of time you’d bring that up early on. If you don’t bring it up it is the same as saying you are able to meet the requirements. It’s really not an unreasonable assumption (in fact it would be pretty normal) for an employer to make.

          1. Zillah*

            I think that part of the problem is that the OP seems to be coming from a slightly different background than most of us – he doesn’t seem to be using some terms in quite the same way most of us do (e.g., entry-level, negotiation). It’s possible that some stuff is just getting lost in translation.

            That aside, though – I can see how the OP might have come off that way (though I personally didn’t interpret his post like that), but given that we generally try to assume the best of OPs, I’ve been really taken aback at how strongly a lot of commenters I see as very level-headed, sympathetic people are reacting to this, especially considering how comparatively low stakes it is compared to some letters we get on this site.

            I’m not saying this is exactly the same thing as negotiating benefits or work schedules, but I think a lot of the arguments being made against it can easily be applied to those situations as well, and that’s a problem.

            IMO, the issue here is that the vast majority of work that’s advertised as being FT really does need someone there FT, and if you wait awhile to mention that you’re hoping to work PT instead, you’re a lot more likely to annoy people than gain anything from waiting. And, if you’re asking to work anything less than four days a week, I think you’re also likely to come across as pretty naive and inexperienced, just like you would if you asked for $80k for a job that usually only paid $45k. But it’s the magnitude and the specifics that are the issue, IMO, not that the OP is misleading people or trying to manipulate them or taking jobs from people who actually need them.

            1. Ops Analyst*

              Yeah, I can totally agree with your points. For some reason it just came off that way to me and I’m probably not the only one. But I agree that OP deserved a more even toned response. I do think people were really just trying to help though. Things started coming across as a “we must get through to him!” Vibe. But that wasn’t really fair.

        2. Ops Analyst*

          For the record, I really don’t take issue with OP applying and asking if he can work part time. I only took issue with how it seemed he was planning to go about it. I agree its absolutely worth asking.

    2. Museum Educator*

      “I also don’t think it’s useful to try to anticipate what the hiring manager might be willing to budge on.”

      You’re right that it’s not useful to try to anticipate what the hiring manager might be willing to budge on. Which is why OP should be straight forward so she can find out whether this is one or not. If they aren’t willing to budge they won’t be willing to budge at any point in the process and if OP wants to preserve a good relationship with them she should mention it early on so they don’t feel misled or like their time was wasted.

      My impression of this thread was that most people weren’t completely discouraging applying at all, but more when to disclose that OP can only work part time.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree that the OP should be straightforward and mention it early on, particularly if PT = 20 hours, not 30-35. I guess I just feel like a lot of people seem to have answered the OP very aggressively and under the assumption that he wasn’t planning to mention it until the offer stage, which I don’t think he ever suggested.

        1. Ops Analyst*

          As I said above, the original letter said something about bringing it up during the negotiation stage, which is usually after the offer. It’s clear that’s not really what he meant but I can see where the assumption came from based on that choice of wording.

          1. Zillah*

            The original letter said:

            My plan is to not bring up my other commitments until the negotiation phase (before the offer, but after the interview), but I’m worried that that would be considered dodgy, since I already know I can’t do full-time yet. Still, I think if I put it in the cover letter, I may as well not apply at all for all the consideration they’re going to give me.

            I mean, I get how the choice of wording was confusing, and I think it needs to come up during the interview at the latest, but it is pretty clear that he wasn’t saying after the offer. It’s also pretty clear that he’s concerned that waiting that long might be a problem, and that seems to have gotten largely overlooked.

            1. Ops Analyst*

              Yes, that’s why I said it’s clear that’s not what he meant. But things in the original letters go missed all the time.

Comments are closed.