Making The Best Of Job Status Change
Q: I am a woman in my early 60s who has worked for the same public relations firm for four years doing extensive bookkeeping with QuickBooks, managing the office, streamlining day-to-day operations, processes and systems, delivering monthly management reports, managing daily written correspondence and communication, handling office inquiries and conflict resolution and providing customer services.
I get along well with my co-workers and they appreciated my work. I made occasional mistakes, but no more than anyone else at the company. My boss was always demanding and overly critical, but I have always acted appropriately and my performance reviews were good.
The company experienced business and management changes that caused my job to be redesigned, which in turn caused my employment status to go from full-time to part-time. This change places me in a difficult financial situation, so I am now looking for a second part-time job so that between the two, I will be able to support myself.
What do I say to prospective employers that ask why I was moved from full-time to part-time? How can I frame this situation and explain it in a way that doesn't make me look like a bad or incompetent employee?
A: You lost more than your full-time salary; you lost your company benefits that only full-time employees receive. It is unlikely that two part-time jobs will equal your full-time salary, but you may plan on interviewing for a part-time job because you think you won't be given another full-time one.
First, here's a word on making mistakes. Yes, to err is human, but no one should casually accept making mistakes as part of the job. When you discover you periodically make mistakes of a certain type, it might help to increase your focus on that type of work to ensure no mistakes occur. Adopting the attitude that mistakes are ok because everyone makes them works against the company's success. Perhaps that shared employee approach is what spurred the company into redesigning its processes and procedures.
It will probably be easier to get a second part-time than another full-time one, but you should still look for a full-time while you work two part-time jobs. When you interview for a new job, simply say your company re-organized and changed your job into part-time and don't over-explain. Your fear of a potential employer thinking you were a bad employee might indicate you think you could have done a better job. Raising expectations on performance standards might now help you deliver error-free work. It may also give you greater confidence in your ability to deliver at a higher performance level, which would increase your value to any company that employees you.
Another avenue with strong job possibilities for you is to register with an agency that places temporary employees with office management and financial skills. This is a good way for you to increase your contacts and establish credentials, which could lead to a long-term contract with the company.
As you continue your original job as a part-timer, notice whether there is less work or if certain tasks were turned over to a younger employee with a similar performance record. Reducing your hours may have saved the company from paying you benefits, specifically health insurance, which charges greater premiums for older employees. A discrimination charge is not an easy path nor is it an ideal solution, but your financial future is at stake so you may want to consider all your alternatives.
Hopefully, your less than perfect job performance will be a thing of the past and your demanding boss will see and appreciate the change. Work life doesn't have to end at 60; demanding a higher performance level of yourself may turn you into a greater asset than you were before 40.
Email all questions to workplace and life coach Lindsey Novak at LindseyNovak@yahoo.com. For more about her, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and follow her on Twitter @TheLindseyNovak and Facebook at Lindsey.Novak.12. For past columns, visit www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.