Over the last several years, many reports on the economy have indicated that the job market is up and companies are increasing their hiring. What some of these reports don't mention is the fact that most of these new positions are part time or temporary, which isn't necessarily what full-time job seekers want to hear.
"Many people now find themselves limited to part-time work opportunities," said Raj Sheth, CEO and co-founder of applicant tracking software Recruiterbox. "Part-time jobs tend to offer limited promotional activity. This means that [existing] skills become limited in their improvement since the work environment may not foster or realize the importance of improving individual talents."
When it comes time to make the leap into a full-time work environment, employees with primarily part-time experience may find the transition jarring and may face some unexpected challenges. [MORE: What the Part-Time Economy Means for Employers]
"Transitioning to a full-time job can be a frustrating task for part-time workers who are looking for steady work hours, higher pay and more benefits," said Erika Kauffman, general manager and executive vice president of 5W Public Relations. "The move to a full-time position is not easy, as part-time employees find themselves needing to put extra effort into proving their commitment and expertise to potential employers. Part-time employees are competing with other applicants who may have more experience working in full-time positions and need to stand out as being more dedicated and passionate about the position."
If you're using your part-time work experience to land a full-time gig, Sheth and Kauffman advised leveraging the following skills from your previous positions to prove you're the right person for the job.
Many part-time jobs provide workers with opportunities to grow their people skills, said Sheth, and this quality translates into any kind of work. Highlight that you interacted with customers, managed shifts and handled additional responsibilities that required you to work directly with other individuals. This will show a hiring manager that you can handle teamwork and interpersonal conflicts, and can represent your brand to clients.
"The impact of tasks like helping customers find the right products goes beyond the immediate action of showing the customer to the correct area and providing them with a good background on the product," Sheth told Business News Daily. "This shows that you are a caring and knowledgeable employee who is willing to go the distance to help customers."
Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises, agreed, noting that transferable skills are the key to showing employers you can handle the full-time job.
"A part-time cashier has experience working with the public, handling cash, working in fast-pace environment, critical thinking in high pressure situations, etc.," Pierce said. "In the interview, talk about achievements and how your practical work experience qualifies you for the job."
Knowledge and learning skills
As a part-time worker, you probably don't have the exact same qualifications as a full-time applicant seeking the same job. However, showing a hiring manager that you've learned as much as you can about the position and company, and are willing and able to learn more can give you a competitive edge.
"Let your potential employer know how you've committed yourself to learning and growing in a part-time position, and why you're ready to take on more responsibilities," Kauffman said. "Knowledge is power for part-time employees, who should make sure they learn the ins and outs of the business before applying. Knowing the history, mission and goals of your company demonstrates that you have a vested interest in the business and are willing to do what it takes to learn and grow."
Business growth skills
Whether you stocked shelves, rang up purchases or just answered the phone, the work you did in your part-time position helped to advance the growth of the company in some way. When applying to a full-time job, making yourself stand out depends on how you highlight those contributions.
"Workers should take a close look at their day-to-day tasks to see how they play into a bigger role in the organization," Sheth said. "This gives them another way to showcase how the work they do at a part-time job contributes to the overall growth and success of the company."
Sheth cautioned job seekers to not get hung up on specific titles, and instead prove that their skillsets will help the company's overall strategies.
"Try to understand what you could do to grow their business," he said. "Imagine if it was your own business — companies will hire anyone if they are convinced that the person would add to the revenue and growth. You have to think beyond you."
No matter what industry or position you're applying to, every company wants to know that its employees are capable of bringing innovative solutions to the table. Kauffman recommended contributing ideas right off the bat based on what you know about your potential employers.
"Bring up any work inefficiencies that you notice, along with the solutions for improving them," she said. "Helping a company save time and money will set you apart as a leader and will get you on the employer's good side."
If you're working part-time for a company that has full-time positions available, express your interest in a more permanent position. Your employer just might take notice.
"Many companies are promoting from within," Pierce said. "Work exceptionally well on your part-time job with the hopes of turning it into full-time employment."
Originally published on Business News Daily