The Paucity of Part-Timers

by Lisa Fass

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As a technical writer with over seven years of experience and a Master's degree, I am disappointed with the lack of part-time jobs and lack of responsiveness by employers to create part-time technical writing positions. The part-time and job sharing concepts seem truly to be solutions for the 1990s, as answers to paring down the payroll or providing more jobs.

I suspect that one reason for the lack of part-time work is the employer's fear that there is not enough time to complete the job on a part-time basis. However, my experience as a freelancer and working with other part-time professionals has shown that we accomplish more on an hour-by-hour basis because we know that our time is limited. There are less trips to the water cooler, less time on the phone (we take care of our personal business on our days off), and more of a sense of urgency. Part-time workers tend to be highly organized and efficient.

Lotus Development Corporation and Wellfleet Communications are the only companies I know that hire part-time technical writers (other than those companies that create special situations for people returning from maternity leave). Pickwick Group in Wellesley and the Association of Part-Time Professionals are two groups actively involved in placement and support of part-time employment in all fields. Let's hear from some other employers out there! This is a progressive part of the country engaging in cutting-edge development. I would like to see some "cutting-edge" human resource policies.

My personal search has been very frustrating. I am faced with giving up technical writing because it is so hard to find consistent part-time work on a freelance basis, and almost impossible to find it on a permanent basis. I may have to return to work in a career that I pursued before I became a technical writer, that is more open to part-time arrangements. I do not want to do this because I worked hard to get where I am and I am proud of my skills and accomplishments in the technical writing/marketing field. In these economic times, I hope that more employers turn to the part-time solution, not as away of eliminating existing jobs but to increase employment and productivity at less cost.

Lisa Fass is a freelance specialist in technical writing and marketing communications.

© 2001 by STC Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Originally published March/April 1992 in the Boston Broadside