What Is a Temporary Worker? (With Benefits and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

At some point in your career, you may take a temporary position with a company. If your status of employment is temporary, it means that the company hired you to perform a job for only a short amount of time. Temporary work can be a solution if you want to try a range of opportunities to define your career path. In this article, we answer the question What is a temporary worker?, explain the reason why employers hire temporary workers and answer frequently asked questions about temporary jobs.

What is a temporary worker?

A temporary worker, also called a contract professional, performs a job for only a short time. They usually work for a staffing agency that sends them out on temporary jobs. Their employment term is different from other hired positions because of the job's shortened time frame. In some cases, employers use temporary employment as a trial position. A temporary worker can also use the job to learn more about the company before committing to a full-time role.

Some professionals choose temporary or 'gig' employment based on their talents. Jobs in the creative industry, such as photography and film production, often suit this category. Working in a gig job allows you to pursue project-based opportunities or flexible employment.

Related: Breaking into Full-Time Work with a Contract Background

Why do organisations hire temporary workers?

An employer may choose to hire a contract professional instead of a regular team member to save time in the recruitment process and to defer the cost of hiring a full-time staff member. Although they require some training, temporary workers may not need as much guidance or instruction while on the job or before they start employment. Here are other reasons why companies may hire temporary workers:

Leave of absence

Sometimes, an employer has to fill the position of a team member on leave. Because they can't replace the team member, they may hire you to temporarily fill the position. When the original team member returns from leave, the temporary position ends.

Related: How To Write a Leave of Absence Letter (With Examples)

Seasonal needs

Another reason an employer hires a temporary team member is for seasonal work. At certain times, companies see a sudden increase in the demand for their services or products. In this case, a company may hire you for a temporary assignment. Because the company only needs assistance for a short period, it makes sense to hire a temporary team member. Some seasonal positions are recurring, and you can find this work every year and usually for the same employer.

Short-term work

Some companies only offer short-term roles because of the nature of the business. You can find these jobs in companies that only open during specific times each year or businesses that operate only under certain circumstances. Stores that sell holiday merchandise once a year fit this category, as do government census workers.

Company gaps

If an organisation requires a specific service that's its own workforce doesn't perform, it may hire a temporary worker. They may hire professionals to complete a one-time project. This could be a contract position for a graphic designer or freelance writer needed for a web development project or an administrative assistant in a legal firm.

Benefits of taking a temporary job

Temporary work offers several benefits to professionals in a transition phase of their careers. Here are a few reasons to consider taking a temporary position:

It allows you to try out different work environments

A temporary position can give you the opportunity to see how multiple companies operate from the inside. It allows you to learn the characteristics of each company you work for. It can give you a chance to determine what kind of physical environment, management style and corporate culture you enjoy working in. Temporary work can offer an opportunity for you and the hiring manager to test the relationship before committing to long-term employment.

It teaches you new skills

A temporary job may not align exactly with your target career trajectory, but it allows you to try out different industries, which can give you an opportunity to learn a variety of new skills and expand your knowledge. A temporary job's new responsibilities can help you learn new workflows, processes and ways of thinking.

Bringing your current skills to new tasks can also help you improve your existing talents. Practising modified versions of tasks can help you learn faster than performing a task in the same way repeatedly. By applying your existing skills and knowledge to a new paradigm, you can gain a new level of insight.

It expands your professional network

One way to boost your career is to establish connections with other professionals. Temporary work can give you the opportunity to grow your network, expand your professional references and earn money all at once. Even if the job isn't something you want to do long term, you can make the most of the opportunity by establishing professional relationships that can benefit your career in the long run.

It gives you flexibility

Temporary work can provide you with more flexibility compared to a permanent position. You can perform your job well and then go home. Typically, you can maintain a better work-life balance compared to full-time staff. A temporary position often pays per hour, so even if an employer asks you to work late, you're adding to your paycheck.

Related: Work Flexibility: Definition, Importance, Types and How-To

It covers gaps in your CV

A temporary position can help you fill gaps in your CV when you're between jobs. It can give you a job to list on your CV and a chance to gain experience. Working contracts on these assignments can show employers you take your job seriously, keep your skills sharp and stay connected to your industry.

Frequently asked questions about temporary jobs

If you're considering a temporary job, you might have questions about the process of finding one and how you function at work. Here are some common questions and answers about temporary work:

What hours does a contract professional work?

Your work hours may vary depending on your employer. Many companies require you to work 40 hours per week. Sometimes, the employer may require you to work over 40 hours, but they give you overtime pay.

What businesses hire temporary workers?

You can find temporary employment in any industry, but certain businesses use more temporary workers. Clerical and office jobs are often available to temporary workers. Healthcare offers temporary employment for a wide range of professionals. Retail also hires temporary workers, often on a seasonal basis. Skilled labour, legal and shipping companies are all industries that often fill temporary positions.

Can temporary jobs become permanent?

Temporary jobs can become permanent. A company might specifically state in a job posting that it is a temporary-to-permanent position. You can ask this question in an interview to clearly understand a company's intentions and let the management know you would be interested to stay on past your temporary contract.

How long can a temporary job last?

Temporary jobs can last up to one year. The amount of time less than a year may vary depending on the company hiring you and the type of employment. Temporary jobs can last for a short period, such as a few weeks.

How can you find temporary work?

You can find a temporary job directly from a company's hiring page or through a job posting website. Make sure the position specifies temporary. Consider using Indeed to find a temporary job that suits your skills and personality.

Another way to find temporary work is through a staffing agency. First, contact the agency and submit information regarding your skills and background. Once you're accepted as a potential candidate for hire, the agency matches your skills with an employer.

Related: How to Use Indeed to Job Search During COVID-19

How can I find a temporary job through a staffing agency?

Staffing agencies have an application process much like any job. The agency often requires you to submit a CV and complete an interview. Once you become a part of their talent for hire, they become your official employer. The agency then hires you out for a temporary position based on their contacts and the needs of outside employers. You may also receive your salary through the agency.

If a staffing agency hired or contracted you, you can specify the type of jobs you want to take based on your qualifications. This process can make finding a temporary job quicker because the staffing agency does most of the work. They contact you when there is a job opening that matches your criteria, and you can then choose if you accept the position.

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