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Web Site to Speak to Skilled Part-Timers

December 28, 2006 By:
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Ilyse Shapiro

Like many women, Ilyse Shapiro, 40, originally of Cherry Hill, N.J., has made certain sacrifices in order to raise a family.

Namely, the marketing guru and Temple University MBA switched from a full-time career track to one working part-time out of her home.

Though Shapiro says that she loves being a stay-at-home mom to daughters Emma Rose, 9, and Molly, 4, she admits that "it seems like I'm always looking for a quality part-time job that satisfies both my professional ambitions and personal needs."

"It's just the dog and me all day once the kids are in school," explained the Wynnewood resident. "I miss the professional stimulation of working with other people."

The snag?

Challenging part-time positions are difficult to come by, according to Shapiro.

"What I'm finding is entry-level or unskilled jobs," she said. "A greeter at Wal-Mart ... things in retail."

While these positions certainly meet a demand, Shapiro said that they don't exactly match her skill set.

There should be jobs that cash in on the employee's "valid work experience and education," she urged. "It's like, you don't want to be a Ph.D. and be stocking shelves."

After realizing that she wasn't alone in her frustration (so many other stay-at-home mothers she knew were also professionals who were looking for significant part-time work), Shapiro decided to take matters into her own hands.

She'll go live with a Web site next month that connects educated professionals with "meaningful, legitimate, part-time employment opportunities."

The site (myPartTimePRO. com) is geared to provide employees with a free database of nontraditional jobs, including project-based, seasonal, virtual, temporary, job-share, short-term and telecommuting opportunities. It plans to reach both Philadelphia and New York City audiences, and seeks to turn a profit by charging employers to post positions, run advertisements and receive screened résumés.

Shapiro said the demand for such a product is considerable.

After sending an online survey to 1,500 potential employees, she discovered that part-time options appeal to a wide-ranging demographic.

Respondents in her parents' generation, for example, said that while they don't necessarily want to work full-time, they can't afford to or don't want to retire completely. Some Generation Y-ers also said that they crave part-time options; Shapiro surmised that they see juggling multiple gigs as more personally and professionally gratifying.

But, she explained, "they're getting the door shut in their face because it's full-time or nothing."

Even more surprising, Shapiro's survey -- which she sent out to 5,000 local companies -- confirmed that employers have a need for such workers.

Citing studies on the subject, Shapiro said that part-time workers have lower turnover rates and higher productivity levels than do full-time workers -- qualities that employers find advantageous.

She said that many companies naturally have an ebb-and-flow work cycle -- accounting firms need additional personnel before April 15; new businesses want temporary start-up help -- and that part-time employees can assist companies with "job-succession plans" for the mass retirement of the baby-boomers.

The latter may be especially applicable to Jewish organizations, many of which are experiencing an aging leadership core.

Shapiro, who worked with the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service for seven years, said that she "would love to have test models and show how this can work."

"I see myself as an advocate. Employers have to be creative, and make positions that promote a work-life balance."


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