Short-Term Jobs: What They Are and How To Find Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 25, 2021 | Published June 12, 2020

Updated February 25, 2021

Published June 12, 2020

More and more people are working in short-term positions rather than permanent jobs. Short-term jobs offer several benefits to both the employee and the employer. While a long-term position might be the goal for most job seekers, temporary or short-term work can aid in career development and provide other benefits.

In this article, we explain what a short-term job is, describe the advantages and drawbacks of temporary work, offer steps for finding a short-term job and answer frequently asked questions.

What is a short-term job?

A short-term job is a time-bound position. Short-term positions can be full-time or part-time, but they must have a specific and binding end date for the employer and employee to consider the job short-term. These types of jobs are also referred to as temporary jobs or fixed-term positions. While all industries can and do employ short-term employees, they're most common in administrative, healthcare and education positions.

Companies hire short-term employees for several reasons. Some businesses might need extra or specialized help on a specific project. Others might need support while a permanent employee is on leave. Others might require seasonal support during times of high traffic or productivity.

Related: How Long Is a Seasonal Job and Can I Make It Permanent?

Advantages of a short-term job

You can benefit in several ways from a short-term job, including:

  • Building experience: Short-term jobs help you build work experience in your chosen field.

  • Determining enjoyment: Short-term jobs can assist you in determining if you like the specific position and industry as a long-term career option.

  • Providing income: Short-term jobs provide consistent income while you pursue permanent job opportunities or finish school.

  • Developing your resume: Short-term jobs can eliminate resume gaps.

  • Working a flexible schedule: Some short-term jobs provide you with a flexible schedule for managing other professional or personal responsibilities.

  • Providing opportunities: Some short-term jobs can lead to permanent employment.

  • Preparing for long-term career goals: Short-term jobs can provide the experience necessary for long-term careers.

  • Enjoying variety: Short-term jobs allow you to try a variety of jobs and learn an array of skills.

Drawbacks of a short-term job

Short-term jobs do have a few drawbacks to think about when considering looking for temporary positions, like:

  • Smaller benefits packages: Some short-term positions might offer benefits like health insurance, but most do not.

  • Little stability: Short-term positions are unstable by nature since they're not structured like long-term positions.

  • Isolation: Working as a short-term employee can be isolating as you have less time to build relationships with permanent employees.

  • Lack of training: Some short-term positions, often those that last for only a few days or weeks, offer little training.

  • Decreased job security: Short-term jobs provide little to no job security since they have a set end date.

  • Lowered job satisfaction: Some short-term positions might lack job satisfaction because of a lack of interest in the work, few personal connections with colleagues or the lack of stability.

Related: How To Prepare for a Staffing Agency Interview: Steps and Tips

How to find a short-term job

You can find a short-term position in several ways. Follow these steps to help you efficiently search for and find an ideal temporary position:

  1. Determine your goals.

  2. Contact a temp agency.

  3. Search job boards.

  4. Tailor your resume.

  5. Prepare to negotiate.

  6. Understand the expectations.

1. Determine your goals

Before beginning your short-term job search in earnest, consider your short- and long-term career goals. Create a list of positions, skills and experiences that would help you meet those goals. Keep this list with you as you search for positions to ensure that whatever short-term positions you apply for will help you develop your skill set and ultimately reach your long-term career goals.

2. Contact a temp agency

A temp agency can help place you in a variety of short-term positions. Many temp agencies help with temporary job placement, temp-to-hire placement and direct hire. A temp agency is an excellent partner in finding an ideal position. Often, after interviewing with the temp agency, they will place you in positions without the need for any additional interviews or negotiations.

3. Search job boards

Many job boards list short-term positions. You can search by industry, position or location. Finding a position through a job board rather than a temp agency gives you more freedom to negotiate terms like benefits, hours and salary, but it does require more time and effort.

4. Tailor your resume

Update and tailor your resume for each position you apply to. Ask the temp agency if they'd like different versions of your resume for distinct types of positions or if one will suffice. Create personal cover letters for each hiring manager when sending out independent applications through job boards.

5. Prepare to negotiate

If you receive an offer through a job board application, negotiate the terms of your contract. Discuss compensation items like salary, hourly pay, benefits, training and other perks.

6. Understand the expectations

Before beginning your short-term position, make sure you understand the specifics of your role and what the company's expectations of you are. Ask about any provided training and if you need to bring any documents or materials with you on your first day.

Related: How To Find a Temporary Job: Steps and Tips

Frequently asked questions about short-term jobs

Review these frequently asked questions about short-term jobs to learn more about how they function and what to expect:

  • Should I list all my short-term jobs on my resume?

  • How long are short-term jobs?

  • Can I perform a short-term job overseas?

  • Can I leave a short-term job early?

Should I list all my short-term jobs on my resume?

Listing short-term jobs on your resume can be useful if you have a sizable gap between permanent or long-term positions. However, it's unnecessary to list every single assignment if you worked a series of day- or week-length positions through a temp agency. In that case, list the temp agency as the employer and provide bullet points of the duties you performed during your work on the short-term assignments rather than each individual position.

How long are short-term jobs?

Short-term jobs can vary in length. Some are as short as a few hours while others can last for years. The duration of the short-term position depends on the industry, job and reason for hiring a short-term employee over a permanent employee.

Can I perform a short-term job overseas?

Many international organizations and companies hire people from other countries to fill short-term positions. Some job boards are dedicated to matching interested job seekers with companies looking for short-term international workers.

Can I leave a short-term job early?

You can usually leave a short-term job before the end of your contract. Be sure to check the details of your contract to ensure you won't suffer any compensatory losses for leaving early. However, most companies, with the appropriate notice, will understand if you leave your assignment early, especially if you're beginning a permanent position elsewhere.

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