What Is Seasonal Work? Types and How To Get a Seasonal Job

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 11, 2022 | Published April 14, 2020

Updated July 11, 2022

Published April 14, 2020

Seasonal employment is ideal for people who want to earn extra money. Many teenagers and college students work seasonally during the summer and school breaks, while adults with part-time employment may work seasonally to augment their income. Understanding how seasonal jobs work and how to get a seasonal position can help you when searching for this type of occupation. 

In this article, we explain what seasonal work is, provide steps on how to get a seasonal job and explore the pros and cons of this type of position.

What is seasonal work?

Seasonal work is temporary employment that recurs around the same time every year. For example, businesses that primarily have more customers during specific seasons hire seasonal employees for extra help during their busiest times. Other seasonal jobs relate to weather that influences shopping trends and employment needs. For example, snowplow companies only need drivers in the winter when snow is present, and centers with pools only require lifeguards during the summer.

A person may choose to work seasonally for several reasons. One reason is to supplement income. For example, an individual with a part-time job may choose a seasonal position to bring in additional wages. Some college or school students may also opt for seasonal work, as it often correlates with their time off from their education. Seasonal employment is a great way to make extra money without committing to a full-time job.

Related: What Is a Seasonal Job? (And How To Find One)

When to apply for seasonal work

In most cases, you can begin searching for seasonal employment before the actual season begins. For example, if you’d like to work in a winter seasonal position, you may want to start applying for jobs in the fall. You can additionally apply for a seasonal job at the beginning of or even during the season. Some employees may quit halfway through the season, which can create new openings throughout the time period of a company’s temporary employment needs.

Related: How To Find Seasonal Jobs (Plus Benefits and 3 Jobs To Pursue)

Seasonal work types and industries

There are a variety of different types of seasonal work and industries that offer seasonal employment, making it easy for individuals with different skills or interests to find a temporary job. Here are some of the most common industries in which you can locate seasonal positions:

Tourism

Resorts and other vicinities in locations with beaches, beautiful scenery and other popular summer attractions often get most of their visitors during the summer. For example, hotels and restaurants located in tropical areas often need seasonal help in the form of servers, hosts and chefs. You can also teach seasonal sports like surfing or ice skating in popular areas depending on the season. For example, some locations have more guests in winter due to skiing and winter scenery opportunities.

Related: 12 High-Paying Winter Seasonal Jobs To Consider

Temporary

There are several opportunities within the temp market for temporary jobs in a variety of fields, with many position openings being related to the needs of businesses. For example, an accounting firm may require additional help during tax season. Some temporary agencies also search for temporary employees for seasonal-based clients. 

Retail

Retail stores usually hire seasonal sales associates in fall and winter due to an increase in customers during these times. For example, customers who want to decorate their homes for Halloween and buy costumes and candy for kids may visit a Halloween-related store in the fall. Another example is Black Friday, which occurs in the winter and is one of the busiest shopping holidays in the year.

Examples of positions you may apply for include store manager, cashier, shelf stocker or gift wrapper. You could also work as a character in a haunted house or one of Santa's helpers. If you prefer working during the summer months, look for jobs near attractions like amusement parks or stores that specialize in summer equipment or merchandise.

Related: 15 Retail Jobs That Pay Well

Food or package delivery

Some businesses need more help with delivery services during the holiday season. People often place orders online rather than shop in person because of the crowds or because they want to enjoy time with their families. Individuals may also choose to do their Christmas shopping online, which can increase a company’s need for delivery employees during the holiday season. 

Construction

Construction is another industry that often relies on temporary or seasonal employees. Some of the busiest times for construction companies are during the spring and fall seasons, especially if they work in areas with extremely hot or wet summers. Colder locations often require more heating contractors, so the demand for these employees may also increase during the winter months.

Related: 15 High-Paying Seasonal Jobs

4 steps to help you get seasonal work

Many seasonal jobs are available, but getting a position you love may take some effort. Take these steps to make finding a seasonal job easier:

1. Network

Consider letting any business contacts, friends, family members or co-workers know that you're looking for a temporary job. Make sure you tell them when you want to start, how long you want to work and which industries you're interested in. Someone you know may have a suggestion as to companies or people looking for seasonal help, which can often make searching for a job easier.

2. Apply early

Applying before the season begins may increase your chances of getting a temporary job. For example, if you want to find work for the Christmas holiday season, you can look for and apply for positions starting in the fall. Many employers list seasonal jobs ahead of time so they’re prepared when the season begins.

3. Consider different options or past employers

Applying for various positions can increase your chances of getting seasonal work. You may also consider working at a place that has previously employed you on a seasonal basis. If your employer is familiar with your work, they may give you more responsibility or better pay.

4. Prepare for your interviews

Preparing ahead of time for job interviews is a great way to ensure you’re ready should you hear back regarding a seasonal position. You can begin preparing by researching the companies you’ve applied with and by practicing answering common interview questions. Another way to prepare is to have a mock interview with a friend or family member and ask for feedback on your performance.

Pros and cons of seasonal work

There are pros and cons that come with seasonal work, and it’s important that you’re aware of each. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages can help you determine if this type of position is right for you. 

Pros of seasonal work

The following are a few advantages of seasonal jobs:

  • Improve your resume: Seasonal employment provides you with the opportunity to learn new skills and work in industries in which you previously may not have worked. This is a great way to boost your resume and show hiring managers that you have a diverse set of abilities.

  • Work for a company with which you want full-time employment: If you have a specific company in mind that you’d like to work for as a full-time employee, you may start as a temporary employee to allow the business to get to know you. This gives you the opportunity to show the company what you have to offer and how you’d benefit them when working in a full-time position.

  • Reduce gaps in your employment history: Gaps in your employment history can potentially have a negative impact on how hiring managers view you as a candidate. Seasonal positions offer the opportunity to fill in any gaps so that you have continuous employment.

Cons of seasonal work

Here are a few disadvantages to consider in terms of seasonal work:

  • Intense work schedule: Many seasonal jobs require individuals to work at inconvenient times or more frequently than full-time jobs. For example, a company that sees the most customers on a weekend may ask its seasonal employees to work long hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Minimal training: Another potential disadvantage is that many temp positions offer little to no training. This means that you’ll have to quickly pick up on your duties and adapt to the environment on your own.

  • Reduced pay: Many seasonal jobs don’t require previous experience, training or abilities, and therefore may provide lower pay compared to full-time positions.

Tips for success at your seasonal job

Here are some ways you can make a good impression, have fun and get valuable experience at your seasonal job:

Treat your job as a permanent position

While a seasonal job is temporary, the impression you make with supervisors and coworkers matters. Even if your primary goal is extra cash and you're not interested in gaining experience, you can still perform professionally. Treating a temporary job as a permanent position can help you stand out to your employer, which could lead to a great recommendation or even an offer for a full-time position with the company.

Related: How Long Is A Seasonal Job And Can I Make It Permanent?

Keep your schedule flexible

Consider structuring a flexible schedule so that you can work when your temporary employer needs additional help. If you have another employer, let both know the schedules for each job. It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re working a seasonal job alongside a permanent position, you may want to prioritize your full-time work to avoid issues with that employer.

Ask questions

If you want to learn new skills while you work at a seasonal job, ask as many questions as you can. Many supervisors and coworkers are happy to help seasonal employees with their tasks and answer any questions they may have. This can help you learn more about the job and industry and boost your transferable skill set for future positions.

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