Part Time to Full Time: 7 Strategies for Career Transitions

Part Time to Full Time: 7 Strategies for Career Transitions

Working part time is convenient when you're in school, have multiple jobs, or are trying to get your foot in the door in a new industry. Eventually, you may want to work more hours and find a full-time opportunity. As a full-time employee, you may become eligible for benefits like health care insurance and paid time off. Going from part time to full time takes some preparation and planning, whether you want to stay in your current position or find a new one.

If you want to transition from working part time to full time, here are some strategies to consider:

Transitioning from part time to full time

Becoming a full-time employee often means having a set schedule and working at least 30 hours per week. The definition of full-time workers and the number of hours can depend on where you live. Along with more hours, full-time employee status often comes with benefits and better job security.

Depending on your current position and employment contract, you may be able to ask your manager to go full time, or if that's not an option, start the job search process.

If you're transitioning into freelancing full time, you get to decide what that looks like. Freelancers set their own work schedules and choose what projects to accept. You can work traditional 9-to-5 hours or find a routine that fits your lifestyle best. Being a full-time independent professional means that freelancing is your main source of income. Freelancers are responsible for their own benefits regardless of how many hours they work.

These strategies can help you smoothly transition from part-time worker to full-time employment:

1. Evaluate your current situation

First, you'll want to evaluate your current situation. If you like your job now as a part-time employee, the first step may be determining if working full time is an option. Contractors may be able to add more hours to their work agreement or ask to become full-time employees.

When deciding to work part time vs. full time, think about both your personal and professional goals. Look where you are now compared to where you want to be. You may need to find a different job entirely to advance your career and make the increased time commitment worth it.

Depending on the role, full-time work can be an hourly or salary position. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows non-exempt employees, typically salaried roles, to legally work over 40 hours per week without overtime pay.

When deciding on part-time vs. full-time employment, consider the type of work schedule you want while keeping work-life balance in mind.

2. Boost your professional skills

Before you can start applying to full-time positions or ask your manager to change roles or give you more hours, you may need to boost your professional skills. If a full-time position would be a promotion, you can start taking online courses and earning relevant certificates to make yourself more competitive and qualified.

Do a skills audit and see where you are compared to where you want to be—this is an important step in career development. Research the type of full-time position you want and read the job description. Check to see if you have any skills gaps and start closing them. Investigate what training and certificates would be helpful and advantageous.

As a freelancer, you can help grow the demand for your services on Upwork by developing in-demand skills and continuing to build your reputation. You can create a specialized profile for any new skills you learn and services you want to offer. Earning talent badges like Top Rated can make you stand out more to clients and win proposals.

3. Develop a professional support network

While friends and family are a great sounding board, developing a professional support network can be helpful during career changes. Connecting with other industry professionals can provide the guidance you need as you transition from a part-time employee to a full-time one. They can advise you on what steps to take and even give you a referral, which can go a long way.

Networking is important whether you're changing industries or trying to move up in the one you're already in. Attending networking events and conferences helps you meet others in your profession. You can learn about new job opportunities and meet potential mentors.

Finding the right mentor can be incredibly valuable. A good mentor is someone who has the type of career you want and is further ahead than you. Learn from their successes and failures and get career advice. They've been where you are now and know what it takes to succeed.

You can also join online communities to get advice and learn more about your industry. Online forums can be great places to research different companies and hear about upcoming job openings. Joining a professional group can be a beneficial resource for career development, from seminars to certifications.

4. Communicate your intentions and objectives

This important step involves talking to your manager to see what options you have (if you want to stay at your current company). Letting your manager know that you're interested in working full time shows initiative. During this discussion, you want to highlight your accomplishments and dedication to the company and illustrate how you can do more as a full-time worker.

Whether or not full-time is an option can come down to budgeting, company policies, and work contracts. Full time may need to be a slower transition, requiring you to take courses and upskill. You can work with your manager to create a career development plan for becoming a full-time employee .

Be open to feedback and potential opportunities within the company. If you're working as a contractor through a staffing agency, they may not be able to make you a full-time employee until the contract ends. Also, consider if you just want full-time hours or full-time status like benefits and job security.

When working as a contractor full time, you may be eligible for perks like health care insurance, retirement savings, and vacation time. Typically, companies with 50 or more employees (applicable large employers) legally have to offer health care insurance to full-time employees under the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACT). Smaller companies may not have to provide benefits under employment laws.

If you want to work full-time hours but aren't concerned about benefits, you can independently get your own health care insurance plan under the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace.

5. Prepare for the job search

Going from a part-time to full-time employee may mean that you need to find a new job altogether. This may be the first step in your career or an opportunity to switch roles or industries entirely. If you're going to start the job search, first, you want to make sure you're prepared.

When applying to jobs, you'll likely need to send a resume, cover letter, and link to your LinkedIn profile. All of these should be updated with your latest job experience and skills. If it's been a while since you've updated your resume or you need to make a new one, you can find resume writing services on Project Catalog that fit your budget.

Research potential companies and positions to help narrow down your job search. Think about what type of full-time job you want, from industry to benefits. You can check the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for different industries and roles to see predicted job growth and average salaries.

Part of your job search strategy can be attending career fairs and local networking events. Job fairs can also be opportunities to find full-time positions. Check local colleges or companies that you're interested in to see if they have any events coming up near you.

6. Utilize job search best practices

If switching to full-time employment means finding a new job, you'll want to follow job search best practices to set yourself up for success. Companies post their open positions on job search sites like LinkedIn and sometimes the career section of their website. Create a schedule and try to block off time to look for jobs and send out applications.

Once you find a job that you think you're a good fit for, you'll need to apply. Tailoring your resume and cover letter for each application can help catch the eye of recruiters and make progress in any applicant tracking system (ATS). Add keywords from the job description and highlight your relevant experiences and skills. You can use templates or AI tools like ChatGPT to write the base of your cover letter and then add extra details afterward.

After sending out applications, the next step is to wait and hear back from recruiters and hiring managers for interview requests. While every interview may be different, practicing common interview questions can help you feel more prepared. Your resume and cover letter grab their interest, but the interview is when you sell yourself and demonstrate why you're the best candidate for the job.

When interviewing with many different companies at once, it's essential to stay organized. Put all of your interviews in your calendar so you don't miss any or accidentally double-book yourself. Keep track of what stage you're at with each company.

7. Stay persistent and patient

Whether you're trying to become a full-time freelancer or find a new job, remember to stay persistent and patient. Building a career and landing a new role takes time. You may not hear back for days or weeks after sending an application.

Focus on what you have control over and what you can work on during your downtime:

You can use the feedback you gain from hiring managers and clients to help you grow. Learn from your mistakes and adjust your approach as needed. Interviewing is a skill in its own right, and it can take time to learn how to be confident and sell yourself.

Think about your strongest skills and your elevator pitch. One of the most common interview questions is, "So, tell me about yourself." You should be able to explain who you are, what you do, and why you're the best candidate for the role in about 30 to 45 seconds.

After each interview, send a follow-up email to the recruiter or hiring manager, thanking them for their time. A simple follow-up email shows your enthusiasm and that you took that extra step that maybe another applicant didn't.

Adapting to your new full-time role

Working full time can be a bit of an adjustment at first. You may need to develop time-management strategies to create a routine that works for you, especially when working from home. Setting boundaries between work and your personal life can help avoid burnout when working more hours or taking on more responsibility.

If you were working part time or on contract, transitioning to full time may be an opportunity to build deeper relationships with your colleagues and participate in company culture. When starting at a new company, you'll likely have onboarding and a training period to learn more about the company and the people you work with. This is your chance to embrace your new environment and connect with your coworkers.

Once you land a full-time role, you'll likely want to stay there for at least a year or two to build up your resume and gain experience. See if the company offers any tools for employee development, like access to online learning platforms, optional training, or mentorship programs. Try to take full advantage of any resources and programs the company offers employees.

Need assistance with your career transition?

When you're ready to take that next step in your career, Upwork is here to help. Build your career as a freelancer or make yourself a more competitive candidate with the help of an expert, like a career coach. Talent on Upwork can get you ready to land that full-time role you're looking for.

If you want to freelance full time, you can find jobs on Talent Marketplace™ that fit your skillset and start working with clients from all over the world right from your home (or wherever you're traveling). Contract-to-hire jobs let you try out positions as a freelancer before committing to full time while still working remotely. These types of clients are open to hiring someone full time.

The possibilities are endless; it's all up to you. Think about what you want and use Upwork to make it happen.

Upwork does not control, operate, or sponsor the tools or services discussed in this article, which are only provided as potential options. Each reader and company should take the time to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Author Spotlight

Part Time to Full Time: 7 Strategies for Career Transitions
Cassie Moorhead
Content Writer

Cassie is a storyteller and content creator with over eight years of experience helping brands communicate to their customers through different channels. She enjoys finding new coffee shops to work from and spending time in nature with her dog, Sweeney.

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