Dear Joyce: I may be laid off soon. Because my wife's job seems secure, I plan to use this layoff as an opportunity to go back to school and upgrade my skills. I could use a good part-time job to make things a bit easier. Ideas? W.O.C.
The first option is to discuss with your current employer the possibility of working part-time. Companies whose ranks are thinning out may look favorably on employees willing to shift into another area or work short hours.
Other ideas: High-growth, high-tech companies competing for scare skills may be accommodating. Nonprofit organizations -- universities, museums, human-service agencies -- can't pay corporate dollars but may compensate with flexible or short hours. Ditto small businesses operating with boxed-in budgets; moreover, managers in the smalls often have more discretion than in large companies where personnel policies are bronzed.
Government agencies at all levels -- federal, state and local -- usually have some part-time positions.
In a few cities you'll find organizations that can head you in the right direction. In Seattle, Wash., Focus has lists of part-time professional jobs, as does the Association of Part-Time Professionals in the Washington, D.C., area.
Colleges and universities operate career service offices that post job openings. Counseling centers for women or senior citizens are apt to have registers of part-time work.
In checking newspaper recruitment ads, don't limit yourself to part-time job openings, but cruise the full-time ads in your specialty. Until you investigate, you never know who will be agreeable to part-time or job-sharing arrangements.
When you're attempting conversion from full- to part-time hours, plan your sales pitch in advance. If the employer says other employees would resent your short hours, for example, tactfully remind the interviewer they probably wouldn't be crazy about the short pay that goes with short hours.
One big problem you can't ignore is the lack of employee benefits that often accompany part-time employment. Current national data shows bennies running 37.6 percent of payroll or $11,527 annually per employee. If your spouse does not have a good benefits package including strong health insurance, you may elect to continue your current coverage as long as possible at your own expense, take out student insurance or negotiate with your part-time employer.
Thanks to the cushion of a second income, you have more flexibility than you would have enjoyed in days when the sole wage earner had pressing needs to become re-employed.
Using your time off to retool for a higher-paying future while your spouse covers the basic expenses is good planning.