These 6 Tips Can Help You Move From From Part-Time to Full-Time Employee

A woman in downtown Atlanta
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Wishing for more from your part-time or seasonal gig?

For workers who’d prefer to be full-time, the difference goes beyond a bigger paycheck.

Depending on the company, full-time employment can mean a benefits package that includes health insurance and paid time off along with the stability of a reliable schedule.

As of November 2018, more than 4.8 million part-time workers in the U.S. said they’d rather be working full time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 2.9% of the labor force.

Although that group was nearly twice as large (9,233,000) in March 2010, the most recent figure is still larger than the pre-recession lows of 3,900,000 back in March 2006.

And that number doesn’t count “voluntary” part-time workers, which includes those who might otherwise want to be full time but have to cut back on work hours due to rising child care expenses or family caregiving costs.

But making the leap to full-time employee demands more than wishing. Read on for tips to turn your part-time gig into a more, ahem, full-filling career.

Going From Part-Time to Full-Time Work

 Emily Kapit poses for a portrait
Career strategist Emily Kapit advises part-timers to prepare carefully and consider long-term goals before asking a current employer for full-time work. Photo by Missy Mulkeen Photography

Before rushing into your boss’s office to demand an increase in hours, consider what your goals are, advises career strategist Emily Kapit with

“Are you looking for a 40-hour-per-week job? Are you looking for simply more hours?” she asks. “Or are you looking for the full shebang, including benefits and everything?”

Preparation is essential, since asking for full-time status should be no different than negotiating a job offer or salary increase, Kapit says.

Here are six tips to arm you for the ask.

Know What Is the Difference Between Part Time and Full Time

Researching your company’s policies should be your first step, since the definition of part time and full time can vary by employer.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies part-time employees as individuals working one to 34 hours per week, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal wage and hour law, doesn’t define full- or part-time employment.

That means one company’s full-time employee could work 40 hours, while another might consider anyone working more than 32 hours full time. And benefits associated with those classifications can vary, too.

Consult your human resources department, hiring manager or employee manual to help you understand your organization’s policy.

List Your Accomplishments

Now is not the time to be humble.

If you’re going to make the case to your boss that the company needs you more, you’ll need to present measurable accomplishments from your part-time tenure, according to Kapit.

“What have you done that has made a difference, that has been impactful, that would not have happened without you?” Kapit asks.

To simplify the process for identifying your achievements, she suggests answering three questions: What did you do? How did you do it? What was the outcome?

This method also applies to seasonal workers even if you’ve only been at the job for a few weeks.

“You have less time to prove yourself,” Kapit says. “But it’s also the nature of the job to have done a lot in a short amount of time.”

Make Your Boss’s Job Easier

Building a good relationship with your boss can help solidify your place on the team. One good way to do that is by volunteering to take on tasks that make your supervisor’s job easier, Kapit advises.

“If your manager knows they can depend on you and that you are being proactive and have foresight into what’s happening, that’s how you build a really strong relationship,” she says.

By changing your mindset so you no longer view the job as temporary, you’ll demonstrate why you deserve to be there full time, according to Scott Waletzke, head of enterprise recruitment strategy at Adecco Staffing USA.

“Set yourself apart and be that individual who is going to have that positive outlook or that positive attitude every single day when you come into work,” he says. “View that job as just an extended interview.

Network With Those Who’ve Made the Leap

If you haven’t already, introduce yourself to other employees who have successfully made the leap from part time to full time, Kapit advises.

“Ask them for their insight, ask them for their support — especially if they had to have that same conversation with the same [supervisor],” she says.

Networking is a great way to garner support, but Kapit cautions that it only works as part of a bigger strategy.

“If you have built all the great relationships but have really not done anything, that’s really not going to be helpful,” she says. “The main game plan is do a great job because it’s all going to boil down to: How have you been impactful?”

Prepare to Negotiate

So when’s the best time to talk to your boss about your desire for full-time employment?

“There’s no time like the present,” Waletzke says. “No one’s going to know what you want out of that job unless you tell them what you’re looking for.

And by going in prepared with your list of needs and accomplishments, you’ll be ready to confidently approach the negotiation as a discussion rather than a plea, Kapit says.

“That question, ‘What can we do?’ is very strategic,” she says. “It’s opening it up as a true dialogue between two people, as opposed to ‘I want this’ or ‘I’ll defer to you.’”

And don’t forget to think outside the box — or your current job at the company.

“If it’s not in your current role, perhaps there is another full-time position available in another department,” Kapit says. “This is particularly true for seasonal employees looking to make a post-holiday leap.”

Always Be Looking

Even armed with a list of accomplishments and an armada of advocates, your boss might say no to your request to become a full-time employee.

“Unfortunately, as an employee, you don’t necessarily always see behind the scenes,” says Waletzke, who notes there are any number of reasons a boss may decline, including budgetary reasons or hiring criteria restrictions.

If you’re a seasonal or temporary worker, Waletzke strongly recommends finishing the assignment, since your manager might provide a reference — or possibly a job in the future.

“Definitely stick it out and stay for the long haul, because you might even pick up some skills along the way,” he says.

By developing a professional, well-researched approach, you’re creating a guide for your ongoing career journey, Kapit stresses.

“Know that’s it’s not personal, and it’s just a matter of continuing your job search,” says Kapit. She adds that until you find a job that offers you the hours and pay you want, “You should always be looking.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Data journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed to this article.