How to Work Part-Time as a Software Engineer
10 ways to get part-time jobs in software, and useful tips for non-engineers as well
So you want to reduce your hours and find more balance in life. Or maybe you want to ‘overwork’ to make more money and learn new things.
Whatever your motivation, you try to search Google for part-time software engineer jobs but the results stink. While there are lots of ways to work part-time out there, they’re not particularly accessible or easy to find.
I hope this evergreen guide will help!
Note, while this guide is tailored for software engineers, most of the list is applicable to anyone. If you want to see this guide for a different role (e.g. marketing, sales, etc), reply to this email or drop a comment.
10* ways to get part-time jobs as a software engineer
Disclaimer: Any mention of companies or services is not an endorsement or review.
0. Reach out to your networks
Any job related search should start within your own networks for a warm intro. Here’s a couple things you can do:
- Put on your LinkedIn profile that you’re open to contracting or part-time engagements. Make sure any job history is up to date with keywords that hiring managers may search for so you’ll get inbound requests.
- Reach out to company alumni networks. If a company you used to work for doesn’t have an alumni Slack group, consider starting one.
- Directly contact the people who know your work best and see if they have any openings at their companies.
1. Seek non-traditional, self-employed options
My post on The Part-Time Tech Landscape covers a lot of working arrangements that don’t involve being employed by someone else. Consulting, expert networks, role sharing, starting a business, teaching, are just some of those options. Many of these are great fits for software engineers and their expertise.
2. Marketplaces & Talent Agencies
There are many marketplaces and talent agencies that can help you get part-time work. These vary in the quality and type of work from one day ‘gigs’ for $100 to being a fractional C-level executive getting paid big money and equity.
A marketplace is a website where talent and companies can find each other for work.
A talent or staffing agency (ie a recruiting service) is a middleman that handles the matchmaking between talent and companies.
I’ve been compiling a list of these marketplaces and agencies here.
3. Apply to a company on the Part-Time Tech Company List
The number of companies that actively advertise part-time roles is relatively few but they’re out there! I’ve started compiling a list of them in a spreadsheet.
For free access:
- Subscribe below if you haven’t already, and reply to the confirmation email with “Part-Time Tech Company List please!”
- If you’re already a subscriber, just click here to request access.
4. Consider a 4 day week company
It may not exactly be part-time, but one of the easiest ways to reduce your hours is to find a 4 day week company. There is a growing movement for many companies to chop a day off their working week.
4dayweek.io is one of the best job boards and resources for finding jobs and companies in this space.
5. Check out the Part-Time Tech Job Board
This is a curated list of part-time and flexible jobs from companies I have a relationship with. No generic job listings scraped from the internet.
6. Convert your full-time job to part-time
Your current full-time job may be your next part-time job. The reality is that most companies don’t formally allow part-time work for software engineers, but if you’re already valuable to a company, they may be willing to accommodate you.
Check out my previous post 👇 on this for a step-by-step guide on how to approach this.
Some larger companies also offer part-time work as a formal, HR-approved program. Google and Microsoft, for example, both allow you to drop to prorated hours and compensation. However, you usually need to start as a full time employee and any transition is subject to manager discretion.
7. Cold outreach to early-stage startups
Early-stage startups, especially those that are pre-product market fit, are most likely to be in a position to need part-time help. They typically need to be frugal with their runway and full-time roles are too expensive. But a proven software engineer who’s willing to moonlight and help them build product for, say, 20 hours/week might be just what they need.
Identify startups that you would enjoy working for, cross-reference their funding stage with Crunchbase, and reach out to the founders! If you’re still working full-time, you’ll of course need to make sure there are no conflicts of interest with your primary employer.
Here’s an example template to use if you already have a full-time job:
8. Cold outreach to indie software businesses
This is the same script as above, but for indie (independent) software businesses. These are often solo run software businesses that don’t want to become really big, but may still need help from time to time.
Use sites like indiehackers.com to identify some indie businesses that have revenue and are growing. They are most likely to need flexible help.
9. Flip the script on recruiting messages
Chances are if you’re a software engineer, you get a lot of recruiting messages.
If you’re interested in some of them, set up a canned response to those emails and LinkedIn messages saying you’d be interested but only on a part-time basis. Explain the value you can provide to the company, and be open to doing a 30 minute screen but treat it essentially as a free consult. You’re showing off your expertise and knowledge so that the company would be more open to a part-time arrangement.
If you’re willing to invest a bit more time and not filter companies off your initial response, you could withhold the part-time information until you get on the phone or zoom call.
Keep in mind, the hit rate of this will be relatively low, but it’s also low effort if you have a templated reply. Chances are you’ll do better with founders and hiring managers than recruiters who don’t have the decision making power to do something a bit off the beaten path. Keep in mind the incentives of the person who reached out to you.
Here’s an example templated response:
10. Apply to software development agencies
Software development agencies build software for other companies rather than their own products. They are typically more open to part-time or flexible arrangements than product companies because of the client-based nature of the work. They can ramp resources up and down based on the amount of clients being supported. There are thousands of great dev agencies out there
A Google search for “X software development [agency/studio/shop]” where X is one of your skills (e.g. mobile development, Ruby on Rails, Salesforce) is a good starting point. Reach out and see if they’re open to part-time roles.
Some examples of agencies that may consider hiring part-time: Thoughtbot, Gojilabs, Neomind Labs. (More extensive agency list resource to come!)
Was that helpful?
Is this guide helpful? Did any of these work for you? Let me know. I’ll continue to update this guide as I get more feedback.
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