Job sharing allows you to cut back on work
hours and still get tasks done—with the help of someone
Essentially a type of part-time work, job
sharing is an arrangement in which two or more workers are
responsible for the duties and tasks of one full-time
position. Some job shares are set up so that each person
handles specific duties; others involve less formal
divisions of work.
Job sharers usually coordinate their
schedules. Each works at times or on days that the other
does not. The percentage of time worked by each might be
50-50 or any other agreed-upon combination. And job
sharers often plan to overlap some hours so that they can
fill each other in on what the other has missed.
Pros and cons. Job sharing
allows part-time workers to fill positions that typically
require full-time work. And sometimes, this arrangement
allows workers to keep half the benefits of a full-time
If you enjoy working as part of a team and
are open to letting someone else take over some of your
job tasks, then you might be well suited to job sharing.
Ideally, job-share partners should work well
together, which can include having similar work habits and
complementary strengths and skills. Being able to
communicate with your partner is also important.
Occupations with easily divisible tasks,
such as dental hygienists, are usually more conducive to
sharing. Still, some job sharers find that the arrangement
creates added complexities. And like those considering
other forms of part-time employment, you must decide if
you’re willing to live with less pay and fewer benefits.
How to get it. Job sharers
don’t always find their own partners. But for some
workers, this is a critical step. You might partner with a
current coworker or with almost anyone your employer is
willing to hire, so long as he or she is qualified for
your job. Networking with friends and colleagues can help
you identify possible partners. Or use job-share
advertisements in trade magazines or other publications
that are read by workers in your field.
Because BLS doesn’t collect data on job
sharing, it is difficult to know just how many job sharers
there are. Most of these workers would be counted among
the BLS total for part-time workers.
On-call, temporary, contract, and seasonal
Maybe you would be willing to work as
needed, provided it fits your schedule. Perhaps you want
to work 2 days one week and 5 the next. Or you might like
to work full-time but have summers off. To increase your
time off, consider seeking jobs that involve on-call,
temporary, contract, or seasonal work.
On-call arrangements involve working as
needed—and, sometimes, at the last minute. For example,
nurse Doris D’Errico works on call. When hospital
administrators need someone to cover a shift, they contact
her. "I usually know a couple of weeks ahead of time
when I’m going to work," says D’Errico.
"They can call on the day I’m needed, but I have
the option of saying yes or no." Typically, she must
work a certain number of hours each month to continue the
Temporary arrangements are those in which
workers are hired by an agency to provide short-term help.
Because these workers decide whether to accept the
assignments offered to them, they may have considerable
flexibility over how much they work. And even though
individual assignments may not be permanent, many
temporary workers take these jobs regularly.
Contract arrangements can also give
workers control over their assignments and hours. Some
contract workers are hired by a contract firm to perform a
job, often for a specified time or task. Others are
independent contractors and sell their services to
companies as freelancers or consultants. Some independent
contractors might work in wage and salary positions, but
many others are self-employed and find their own jobs.
(Self-employed workers, more than half of whom are
independent contractors, are discussed in more detail on
Seasonal jobs offer blocks of time with less work. If
you choose to pursue seasonal employment, however, keep in
mind the times or seasons that you would prefer to work.
Tax preparers, for example, have more time off between May
and December, whereas construction and landscape workers,
especially those in colder climates, often have reduced
workloads during the winter.
Pros and cons. On-call,
temporary, and contract workers usually like that they can
choose among the assignments offered. Plus, hourly
earnings are sometimes higher for these workers than for
permanent employees. And seasonal workers enjoy having
periodic work that is fairly predictable.
But not having a consistent income is one
obvious drawback to any job that allows time off. Some
jobs, such as those in teaching, take this into account by
apportioning salary over the entire year. Other workers
take multiple seasonal jobs—perhaps working as a camp
counselor during summer months and as a school field
hockey coach during the academic year, for example.
Having a sporadic schedule is less
problematic if you have another source of income or if you
don’t have other pressing commitments. D’Errico, for
example, uses her earnings to supplement her retirement
income and can usually change her plans on short notice,
so the uncertainty is not a problem. "With my job,
there’s no guarantee that I’ll have work," she
says. "The hospital can call and tell me to stay
home, and that’s fine for me. But this would be a
downside for someone who was counting on that money or who
had already arranged for babysitting."
An additional consideration for these jobs
is that the agency or firm that matches you to temporary
or contract assignments takes a percentage of what you
make. And although some of these arrangements might
command higher hourly earnings, other employer-provided
benefits are not always included.
How to get it. Jobs without
long-term commitments are available in many fields. In
some cases, their prevalence makes them easier to get.
In February 2005, there were nearly 2.5
million on-call workers, according to BLS. On-call
opportunities exist with employers such as construction
firms, hospitals, schools, retail stores, and public and
Temporary workers are hired across a variety of
occupations and industries. Many temporary workers provide
administrative support or do assembly work in factories.
Government, construction and manufacturing firms, schools,
and hospitals employ large numbers of contract company
For seasonal jobs, employers also vary.
Seasonal work is common in retail trade, educational
services, and agriculture, recreation, and construction
Independent contractors are the largest
segment of these types of arrangements. In February 2005,
BLS data show that there were about 10.3 million
independent contractors, a number which accounted for more
than 7 percent of all workers. Independent contract jobs
are especially common in construction, professional and
business services, and financial activities firms.
BLS data also show that in February 2005, there were
more than 1.2 million temporary-help agency workers and
813,000 contract company workers. These jobs can
frequently be found in a specific type of firm: a
temporary help agency or contract firm. Agencies and firms
will match worker qualifications with available jobs and
pay for the work that is done. To locate an agency or firm
near you, contact the American Staffing Association.
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