Mike Adams has had a tough time finding a new full-time job as a graphic artist in Houston since losing his job last year. But instead of focusing all of his efforts on job hunting, he's taken a different approach: full-time work as a part-time employee. He's cobbled together multiple jobs and freelance assignments that are generating almost what he earned as a full-time employee.
"Would I rather have a full-time job with a salary and benefits? Definitely," says Adams. "But I have rent to pay and other bills, and since my job is a great fit for part-time and temporary gigs, it's better to find those than sit home and collect unemployment, which is a lot less money."
Steady part-time work and temporary project assignments are different facets of the labor force that have taken on a critical role in the post-recession economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that U.S. employers across all industries have on staff 27.18 million part-time workers, which they define as anyone working less than 35 hours per week.
Employers have sought more part-time and contractual help to keep costs down, but also to work around hiring freezes, says Art Koff, founder of TempandPartTimeJobs.com, based in Chicago.
“Hiring on anything less than a full-time basis has improved markedly,” says Koff. “Employers are more interested in hiring reliable temps and part-timers.”
As a job seeker, the key is to know which of these types of jobs is best suited to your needs and skills, he says. “Part-time and temporary are quite different and fulfill different needs,” he explains.
Part-time opportunities are especially abundant in the retail and food service industries. Koff says companies such as McDonald’s and Starbucks are hiring more workers of all ages, including retirees, for part-time positions.
Other part-time jobs are best suited to those already working who are looking to supplement their incomes. Bartending, for example, offers flexible hours and payment through gratuities. For those who need extra help paying bills or putting away savings, this is a prime part-time job.
For professionals with expertise in a specialized field who want to work full-time but for a limited period, temporary employment is an opportunity to stay active. Construction, for example, is an industry rife with temporary project opportunities, employing everyone from laborers to engineers. And retailers often add temporary employees for seasonal help.
Many accountants also find temporary work, typically every spring, as firms hire staff to meet the rush for tax filing. And in the summer, Koff points out that many hotels, national parks, cruise lines and other hospitality firms supplement their full-time staff with temporary hires.
During the holiday season in the late fall and early winter, the shipping and packaging industries are booming with temporary positions, from delivery drivers to material moving machine operators in warehouses. In fact, says Koff, "almost every industry is looking more for temporary employees” during the holiday season to avoid having to hire full-time employees if they can.
Koff says one crucial piece of advice for job seekers pursuing temporary or part-time employment is to target their search and use job boards such as his.
He adds that “if you’re looking for full-time employment, it’s a lot easier to get a full-time job if you’re working than if you’re not working,” Koff says. “Looking for a job on a full-time basis is not a very rewarding experience. When you’re working even on a temporary/part-time basis, your mindset is different.”
Best Part-Time and Temporary Jobs: Accountant
Accountants can find temporary contract work amid the seasonal hiring push before tax day.