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Planning a better future
Planning a better future

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6.5 Broader options

It is common, when thinking about a job, to associate it with a full-time commitment to one organisation over a sustained period of time. Increasingly, this is not the only way of working, and one way of thinking flexibly about the kind of work you want to do is to consider different work patterns. Some of these might combine well with your existing commitments. Others might be a stepping stone towards the work you want.

The list below contains different types of work patterns. As you look through it, ask yourself if any of these options might work for you. Some of the terms used are legal or technical ones, which are important to understand, so these are described for you.

  1. Part-time work involves working for fewer hours a week than the equivalent full-time job. Such jobs normally have a set working pattern, such as every morning, or three specified days of the week. Part-time work has many advantages but can be particularly useful in enabling you to continue to build skills and experience while fulfilling other commitments.
  2. Temporary and contract work is most often a job that has an end date, unlike a permanent job with an open-ended contract. It can give you experience and valuable contacts in a variety of environments, as well as being a valuable opportunity to ‘taste’ a range of jobs and help you to be clearer on what work best suits you. Another benefit of this is that you get a foot in the door of an organisation that interests you. It might then be possible to apply for permanent roles.
  3. Zero hours contract work is a contract between an employer and a worker where the employer does not guarantee minimum working hours and the employee does not have to accept any work offered. The employee is still entitled to statutory employment rights. This type of contract obviously provides flexibility for both parties, which can sometimes suit an employee – depending on their circumstances.
  4. A home-based employee is someone employed by an organisation but works from home for all or part of their working week.
  5. Self-employment means working as a freelancer, for yourself, or running your own business, rather than working for an employer. Self-employment presents both opportunities and risks. It is an increasingly common form of work, and one that may or may not suit you.
  6. Flexible working is something you can apply for if you are already in employment and have worked for your employer continuously for the last 26 weeks (this is correct at the time of writing, but check the current legislation that applies where you work). It can take different forms, but can mean:
    • flexitime – choosing when to start and end work within agreed limits
    • annualised hours – working a certain number of hours over a year but having some flexibility about when you work.
  7. Portfolio working usually refers to work that involves earning your income from a variety of sources. For example, you might work on freelance contracts or as a part-time employee for several organisations and, perhaps, also run a business.
  8. Working in another country can be a very attractive option if you are at a stage in your life when you feel free to live and work away from your home country. Perhaps you have the travel bug and would like to see as many different countries as you can? It could be that you think that work experience abroad will help you to obtain your chosen job when you return, or that improving your language skills might be important to your long-term plans.

Having learned about the potential work options, you need now to think about which ones might work for you, and the next section focuses on this.