When we talk about jobs and job searching, perhaps the first thing we think of is full-time, permanent work, since it is the type of secure and long-term work the majority of us seek. However, temporary work has been creeping into the public consciousness more lately with its slow but significant increase in popularity (source: TotalJobs). Richard Cox of Manpower says, “We are seeing a significant increase in short-term staff because of the changing attitude amongst UK employers about how they get through a slowdown.” Some forms of this type of temporary work are offered for a specific part of the calendar year, known as seasonal work (i.e. summer job, winter job). With the recent slant towards temporary work, and with 40% of employers saying that they wish to hire temporary staff this year (source: comerecommended.com), perhaps seasonal jobs are not for you. So how does it weigh up?
The most obvious reason why people strive towards seasonal jobs is to earn extra income. This point stands for those already with full-time work and those without. If you work Monday to Friday in an office environment, why not stretch to some evenings or the weekend to help pay for those Christmas presents at the end of the year? Or towards a holiday in six months’ time? If you are looking for full-time work, a temporary position can help to fund travel expenses for interviews. However, the con here is that most seasonal jobs do not pay highly.
Employers don’t like gaps on your CV. Sometimes, we face real problems that require us to take time out of our working lives. But if, say, you are forced to take redundancy from a full-time permanent position, you won’t be able to explain away the gap on your CV to a potential future employee with anything other than the fact that you were seeking work. This is where seasonal jobs really come into play. Even if the temporary work you take on isn’t relevant to your career path, it says to employers that you are a hard worker and is an indication that you haven’t become ‘rusty.’ So, even if you are following a career in finance and can’t find work come June, you could work a summer job at Club Med. In this situation, the short-lived nature of the job would work well. But if there is a real struggle for career work, seasonal work doesn’t promise any growth or financial incline.
In relation to gaps on your CV, seasonal work can provide you with extra references and illustrate some new skills that you’ve developed. Taking a winter job at a ski resort could secure a positive reference for your next career move, and confirm that you can work under pressure and see to many people’s needs at once. While this is true, the fact remains that you have to take time out of your schedule to work this job, and sometimes this is just not possible, especially if you are taking a seasonal job on top of full-time work. Think carefully before applying; only apply if it can fit around your current situation, and if you’re not going to work yourself into the ground.
One final quality of seasonal jobs; it allows you to test-drive a job with no real strings attached. Many people find reward in work that they first only applied to for financial gain, and stay with it for years. Some people in senior retail positions who are qualified to move up the hierarchy stay in their current role because they enjoy helping people. Or, some young people take summer internships at companies they have prospects for, and use the internship to determine whether this path is for them. Of course, the final drawback: seasonal jobs takes time, and while you are making money, you could be missing out on time spent with friends and family.
Simply work out what your priorities are. If you know that you’ll wear yourself out, or if you need to spend time with family, perhaps it isn’t for you. But if you really, really need the money, or you could do with an extra reference, or even just need a stopgap between career jobs – and this outweighs the imposition on your social life – seasonal jobs are probably for you.