Finding Work That Affords Greater Freedom
IN RECENT years the ranks of the unemployed have grown at an alarming rate world wide. Finding suitable employment has become a major challenge for millions of persons.
At the same time an interesting situation has developed. According to Changing Times of January 1974, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 13,200,000 workers, some 16 percent of the total United States labor force, had gone on part-time work schedules. Of these, only a fifth were looking for full-time jobs; the remaining 10,600,000 preferred a work schedule that affords greater freedom.
Some persons, in fact, have given up lucrative, responsible positions to work part time at menial jobs. Many testify that they are much happier, even though reduced income has called for adjustments in their life-style.
Could work that affords greater freedom benefit you? How can you locate suitable part-time employment?
Many persons have concluded that working at a secular job five or more full days a week creates pressures and frustrations that even a large income does not offset. A man from the eastern United States, who left a high-paying job and now maintains a comfortable living for himself and his family by doing a variety of odd jobs and seasonal work, explains: “I could work more each day. I could work all of my summers. But I do not want to. I personally do not feel that I want to spend all of my days working for money.”
Many have found that working full time does not allow enough time to enjoy family life. A former engineer from Omaha, Nebraska, explains: “My job consisted of overseeing projects that were located hundreds of miles away from home—seven days a week—on call twenty-four hours a day. I would be away from home for days, weeks, and sometimes months. I could not carry out my family responsibilities because I was a ‘work-a-holic.’”
This man, therefore, gave up his demanding position and eventually went to work part time as a painter. How does he feel about making this move? “I have no regrets,” he replies. “I only wish that I had done it sooner.”
Jehovah’s witnesses are among those who wish to gain as much free time as possible. They want to share vital Bible truths with their neighbors, and many elders in congregations desire more time to care for the spiritual and other needs of fellow Christians.
One of Jehovah’s witnesses in California who gave up working six days a week, in favor of part-time janitorial work, points to the benefits he received: “I have been able to grow spiritually by having more time for personal Bible study. I now have the needed time to care properly for my responsibilities as a family head. This has brought about a close bond between myself, my wife and my two children.”
Could working fewer hours result in greater happiness for you? What type of part-time work could you find?
What Type of Work?
You may feel that finding a part-time job would be nearly impossible in these days of economic crisis. But some have found it surprisingly easy. “All signs indicate that part-time jobs are a large and growing sector of the employment market,” notes Changing Times, adding: “As evidenced by special training programs set up by businesses for part-timers and the liberalization of fringe benefits offered regular part-timers, the trend is to make part-time employees a full-fledged part of a firm’s work force, not just a floating reserve labor pool.” The article further remarks that “some businessmen say the odds have never been better that you can find a part-time job merely by walking into a store and asking for work, particularly in suburban locations.” Did you know that?
Cleaning and janitorial work have been especially good for part timers. A man who now works an average of fourteen hours a week in this field explains:
“One good thing about maintenance work is that you can get started without investing a large amount of capital or time. In larger cities it is possible to pick up used equipment, such as a floor machine or vacuum cleaner, through newspaper ads. One does not need new equipment to get started. The average life of a floor machine, for example, is more than 10 years. Nor is it necessary to have a van or station wagon to work out of. A car and its trunk will often provide all the space you need for your equipment.”
Another person who found that working at cleaning afforded him greater freedom observed: “There are many varieties of this work, such as chimney and flue cleaning, steam cleaning of restaurant grill heads, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, wall washing and allergenic cleaning (for persons with allergies). Fire insurance companies can assist in getting jobs in flue cleaning and grill cleaning; real estate companies may help in finding carpet cleaning and general cleaning jobs.”
A full-time publisher of Jehovah’s witnesses found a convenient work schedule in a different field. He relates:
“My main secular employment is as a men’s clothing salesman for a large department store. Stores of this type are very much interested in part-time employees. I work on a straight commission basis and only get paid for what I do. My schedule is variable, usually 12-9 on Wednesdays and 3-9 on Saturdays. Thus, there is never a day in which I do not have some free time. Last summer I took four weeks off for a Christian assembly and another 2 weeks for my honeymoon. This caused no problem with my employer, for that is the slow season at work. During the busy season I work more and earn enough to counterbalance the slow periods.
“I feel that commission sales is an excellent way for persons to support themselves and their families in a limited number of work hours.”
What, though, if you feel that you ‘just never could be a salesperson’? The man mentioned above suggests: “Don’t be afraid to try it, even if you feel that this type of work is not for you. I never considered myself a salesman, nor did I think that it would pay enough. But everything worked out just the opposite. You never know unless you try.”
There are many types of work that can furnish adequate part-time employment. For example, women often find suitable work schedules as hairdressers or secretaries. There is always a need for good painters, bank tellers, construction laborers and persons who do gardening and landscaping. In some areas, drivers are in demand for school buses, various small trucking jobs and to deliver newspapers. A man who gave up a full-time job and began delivering newspapers four hours a day, six days a week, explains:
“When I left my high-paying full-time job, felt a tremendous burden lifted from me. Without the pressure of that job, I can think more clearly. Now I have both mornings and evenings free, which gives me time to concentrate on spiritual matters. I recognize my responsibilities as a husband and father more and am trying to help my family spiritually.”
If you would like to switch to a form of work that affords greater freedom, how should you go about it?
Finding That Part-Time Job
Have you considered the possibility of gaining more freedom on your present job? Would your employer consent to your working the same number of hours in fewer days? You might be able to do that simply by reporting to work earlier or by staying later on certain days. And what about switching to part-time work at your present job? You may think that your employer would never consent to this. But have you asked him?
Some individuals have found that the current economic pinch has made it easier to obtain more time off from work. A man from Pennsylvania comments: “Due to a gas shortage, the tire store where I worked was about to lay off a man. I asked the boss if I could help by switching to part-time work. He was glad to have me do that, and I was delighted.” Might something similar succeed for you?
If you decide to go into a different field of work, you may need to get some training. Is there a school nearby that provides classes in the type of work that interests you? What about learning a line of work by offering your services without pay for a while, in return for expert instruction? And did you know that some janitorial supply firms provide books about building maintenance procedure, floor care and how to select equipment? It could be that simply a few phone calls, or a trip to a bookstore or a public library is all that is necessary to get you started in an occupation that can provide much freedom.
When approaching an employer, be specific. Tell him what your plans are, and how many hours you wish to work each week. This will give him an idea of where he can fit you in, if a part-time position is available.
But what if there is no one in your area hiring persons to do the type of work that you have chosen?
When No One Is Hiring
If you cannot find a suitable job working for someone else, you may find it beneficial to become self-employed. A check of local laws may reveal that starting a small business is quite simple. And working for yourself can bring less pressure than working for others. A man who found this true in his case says: “I feel that I have benefited by not having the problems of layoffs and pressures related to the high-volume demand placed on employees in inflationary times. I can adjust my work to fit my own circumstances.”
If you decide to become self-employed, how can you go about getting customers for the product or service that you offer?
Approaching Prospective Customers
It has often been found that placing a small ad in one or several newspapers can bring good results. Face-to-face contact, however, is evidently the best way to convince individuals and representatives of firms that they need what you have to offer. When seeking out customers, it will prove helpful to keep the following in mind:
(1) Can you offer the same service as others at a reduced price? A man who does odd jobs as a painter and handyman observes: “Many householders cannot afford to pay the high prices charged by most painters, plumbers, and so forth. There is plenty of this kind of work for one who makes a reasonable offer and does good work.”
(2) Can you charge the same price as others, but do more or better work? Adding a few “extras” usually costs you little, but can do much to enhance your business reputation.
(3) Can you supply a product or perform a service that no one else offers? One man whose business was to rent out a rug-cleaning machine together with selling a special type of rug-cleaning fluid found that competition was stiff. Then he hit on the idea of offering use of the machine free when his customers bought a certain number of gallons of rug cleaner. This succeeded, as no one else had made such an offer.
An important thing to keep in mind when approaching prospective customers is the need to be businesslike. A young man who, together with a partner, developed a successful part-time gardening service remarks:
“I find that use of business cards gives a more professional appearance than scratching my name on a piece of paper. I had stationery and envelopes made up so that I could type up letter bids for interested persons, stating my price and exactly what they could expect. from me. People appreciate this, as it gives them a copy in writing of what they are paying for. I also find that wearing uniforms on the job provides a neat appearance that favorably impresses customers. This, together with the good quality work that we try to provide, leads our customers to recommend our service to others.”
Of course, the reduced income that comes from working part time may call for some changes in your standard of living. However, the changes may not be as big as you expect if you cut back on nonessentials. Consider the experience of a police officer who gave up his job to engage more fully in sharing Bible truth with his neighbors: “My wife and I made a list of our debts and concentrated on the smaller ones first. Within a short time the number of debts decreased, leaving us extra money to make a noticeable dent in our larger debts. By focusing on our needs rather than our wants, within 12 months we were able to cut $300 off of our monthly living expenses.” Could a similar procedure open up more free time for you?
Finding work that affords greater freedom requires initiative and determination. At times it takes weeks, even months to locate the desired work schedule. Is your wish to have more time for worthwhile pursuits strong enough for you to make the needed adjustments? If so, probably you too can find work that affords greater freedom.