What Is Temporary Employment?

Long-term temp jobs often include the same boring meetings as permanent jobs.
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When you're pounding the streets in search of your next job, don't rule out temporary employment. It's not right for everyone, but it can open doors for permanent jobs and give you more skills and experience to include on your resume. Temporary employment can bridge the gap between permanent jobs or simply provide extra spending cash.

What Does Temporary Mean?

Temporary means, well, temporary -- as in "for a limited time." It can last for a week, a month or even a year as it depends on what the employer needs. Businesses might use temporary workers to get extra hands during a busy season, such as an accountant's office during tax time, or to fill in for a full-time employee on a leave of absence such as a maternity leave. While the length of time varies with each job, the employer should disclose the time frame when you're hired. The contract you sign might include a clause that provides for a possible extension in the length of the contract without the employer having to draw up a new contract.

Types of Jobs

Temporary jobs are often administrative in nature, such as filing, database entry or answering the phones. However, some skilled professions bring in temporary help for crunch time. Accountants are a perfect example, needing only a skeleton staff most of the year, but filling the office with bodies as that evil April 15 approaches. Technology companies might need extra help converting client computers when a new operating system becomes available. Companies might need project managers for special projects, such as event planning, if they book more jobs than anticipated. While short-term temporary jobs are just that -- an opportunity to jump in and help a company get through a busy period or project overload -- long-term temporary jobs are more likely to turn into permanent jobs, so these are the best bet if you're job seeking in a tough market. Some companies hire temporary workers directly, while others go through temp companies for pre-screening purposes.


Temporary employment offers some benefits such as a steady paycheck for the duration of the contract. Temp jobs also give you a chance to learn new skills and observe unfamiliar industries. Or, if you really make an impression on your boss, your temp job could turn into a permanent position when your temp contract runs out. However, temp positions typically don't include benefits such as health insurance or a 401k. If you're using a temp service to help you find positions, check out their benefits program; some might offer health benefits for a fee. The companies that hire you typically will not make their benefits available to you, as not having to pay benefits is one of the reasons temporary workers are attractive to them.

Your Rights

Even though you sign a contract for temporary employment, there is usually a clause that allows you or the company to terminate the employment for any reason at any time without the need to honor the duration of the contract. The contract's main purpose is to spell out your duties, not keep you there when you don't want to be there. This means that if you find permanent employment while working as a temp, you can generally quit the temp job without any repercussions. You also have the same rights as regular employees to avoid discrimination and harassment, but you might not have the same rights to days off. Taking a day off could void your contract at worst; at best, you would lose a day's pay.

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