Pros and Cons of Taking on Seasonal Work

Pros and Cons of Taking on Seasonal Work

Seasonal work is a popular employment option that several industries offer and many employees really enjoy.

Could it be for you?

That’s something you must answer for yourself. Truth be told, seasonal work isn’t for everyone. Depending on your situation, it could be the perfect short-term solution for your needs.

It’s important to know as much as you can about this employment option before committing to anything. After all, as with many things in life, this work has both upsides and downsides. We want you to make your decision with your eyes wide open to both the positives and negatives.

With that in mind, this article will explain:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of seasonal work
  • How seasonal contracts work and what you need to know
  • What specific seasonal job opportunities are available for you
  • How to look for seasonal employment opportunities that fit your needs and circumstances

We’ll start by talking about the advantages of working seasonally.

Pros of seasonal work

Let’s take a look at all the reasons seasonal work is such a great option for job seekers.

Earn additional income during busy seasons

Seasonal work is a great way to make some extra money on a temporary basis without any long-term commitment.

Seasonal wages vary widely depending on work type and location. For example, seasonal jobs in the retail industry often pay close to minimum wage. But other skilled jobs pay quite a bit more.

For example, tax preparers traditionally work during tax season (January to April) and make an average of $13-$26 per hour.

At the end of the day, any extra money can represent a healthy addition to someone’s bank account.

Gain experience for your resume

Are you looking to add new skills to your repertoire or establish expertise in a specific area? Seasonal work is a great way to give your resume a little shine.

With seasonal jobs, you can gain valuable knowledge and experience in industry software, machines, and strategies. Even something as simple as gaining experience working on a remote team or in an office setting can give you a competitive edge as you look for a more permanent position.

Look for seasonal work that builds on your skill set and makes you an even better job candidate. For example, those working toward a CPA can gain experience as a seasonal tax professional. Or if you’d like to become a park ranger, seasonal work with the National Park Service is a great stepping stone toward that goal.

Build connections within a new company or industry

You may be surprised just how many opportunities and career advancements can come from knowing the right people.

View your seasonal job as an opportunity to get to know those around you. From coworkers to supervisors, each and every one of them is a connection that could pay off down the road.

Your knowledge and work ethic could lead to stellar recommendations and job tips. A strong performance can even lead to the company offering you a full-time position after your seasonal contract ends.

Try new jobs to see if you like them

Are you looking to test drive a new industry, field of work, or company? A seasonal position may be a great way to get your feet wet before diving in headfirst.

For example, a seasonal social media manager job may help someone contemplating a marketing career see if they’d be a good fit. Or if you’re debating whether to become a teacher, getting a seasonal job as a tutor or substitute may help you make your final decision.

Sometimes, a seasonal job can even lead to greater opportunities. Many companies hire from among their seasonal staff since they already know the company and have proven their abilities.

So what started as a temporary gig could wind up being your next permanent job.

Fill unemployment gaps in your resume

Resume gaps are a natural part of life. Perhaps you’ve had to take time away from your career to care for an ailing loved one or a new child.

Whatever the reason, you don’t want that resume gap to negatively impact your career down the line.

Seasonal work may be the answer. It’s a great way to fill your resume with the skills and experience to impress future employers if or when you decide to rejoin the workforce.

Cons of seasonal work

For all the benefits of seasonal work—and there are many—there are also downsides to address.

After all, we want you to have the full picture of what seasonal work can mean for you, both now and in the future.

Limited training

Seasonal work is temporary in nature and often involves a big rush to finish everything. Some companies—though not all—may offer their seasonal employees very little training.

Some temporary employees are thrown into the fray with little more than a short introduction and a learn-as-you-go mentality, which can lead to a stressful work environment.

How do you avoid this?

First, be discerning. Read through past employee reviews to get a sense of each company’s policies. During the interview, ask about the training process and who will assist you as you learn the job.

If possible, look for positions where you have some foundational knowledge that can help you adapt to the role. For example, if you’ve worked as an administrative assistant in the past, those skills may lend nicely to a seasonal job as a front desk receptionist.

Less pay and potential lack of benefits

In some industries, especially retail, companies tend to pay seasonal workers less than their full-time employees—we’re talking close to minimum wage.

Seasonal workers are often under a temporary contract, so employers aren’t likely to offer benefits like health insurance, 401(k), or paid time off (PTO).

However, in the past few years, we’ve started to see a shift in this trend. In the face of labor shortages, companies have started offering sign-on bonuses and higher wages to tempt seasonal workers to join their teams.

Difficult work schedule

Companies often hire seasonal workers to fill in the undesirable schedules no one else wants to work.

This means you may often work odd hours, night shifts, weekends, and holidays. Temporary employees also often work long shifts.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers can schedule employees however they see fit. However, even as a seasonal employee, you're entitled to overtime pay if you work over 40 hours per week—which can add up quickly.

Lack of stability

While it’s nice to have work, seasonal work offers no guarantees.

Under a seasonal contract, employers have very few restrictions on letting people go. They can remove you and terminate your employment whenever they feel they no longer need your help.

This leaves seasonal workers with very little to no stability—a definite risk you should factor into your decision.

No employment guarantee after the seasonal contract ends

Getting your foot in the door at a company is one of the perks of seasonal work—but it doesn’t guarantee they’ll invite you to stay.

While some temporary workers are offered full-time employment after their seasonal contract is up, this isn’t always the case. For example, studies show around an 8% employee layoff in the retail industry after the holiday season.

How do seasonal work contracts typically work?

We’ve gone over the advantages and disadvantages of seasonal employment—a lot to be said on both sides, to be sure.

But how do seasonal work contracts work, and what can you expect?

The human resources department is familiar with employment laws and regulations and will draw up a contract.

What’s in this contract?

A seasonal contract specifies a set period, usually during a busy season like summer or winter. For example, many retail companies hire more workers during the holiday season to handle the extra customers and workload.

Depending on the company's needs, this contract can last from a few weeks to several months. However, to avoid paying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, hiring managers won’t hire seasonal workers for more than six months.

Once the contract is up, the employee is free to move on to another job opportunity.

10 Seasonal job examples

Are you looking for seasonal work opportunities but need help figuring out where to start? Here are a few seasonal jobs and some details about what they involve.

  • Holiday customer service personnel. This is a holiday job we probably all know: Retail stores hire extra personnel during busy periods to help with the increased volume of customers during the holidays. These workers often deal with customer questions, purchases, and returns.
  • Holiday delivery personnel. From flowers and candy to groceries and meals, every company deals with increased delivery demand during the holidays. National companies like Amazon and even local small business owners are always looking for extra delivery drivers during the holiday season.
  • Social media assistants. These assistants update clients’ social media statuses and respond to comments mentioning their clients. These temporary positions can open at any time of the year, depending on when the company and its industry are most in need.
  • Photographers. Photographers face regular seasons of high demand, such as the height of wedding season or during the holidays. (Family Christmas card, anyone?) Seasonal photographers can either advertise their services on their own or work for another company that hires extra staff during busy periods.
  • Marketing personnel. Companies hire seasonal marketing managers and other personnel to help with busy periods. Seasonal need for employees varies depending on the company and industry.
  • Outdoor workers. This can encompass roles in the agriculture, forestry, park service, ski resort and lifeguard industries. From harvest time to national park openings, there are plenty of seasons when these industries need a little extra help. If you’re a fan of outdoor work and like to keep busy, this could be the perfect opportunity for you.
  • Tax preparers. Tax season represents a big push for seasonal employment. There’s a massive influx of clients looking for tax preparation services between January and April, and accounting offices rely on tax prep experts to fill the need.
  • Tour guides. There’s an increased need for knowledgeable tour guides worldwide during the height of the tourist season (typically during school vacations and warmer seasons). If you love history and people, this could be just up your alley.
  • Tutors. Companies hire tutors in a variety of subjects during the busy exam rush. Tutors well-versed in SAT or GRE prep have no end of opportunities during the testing season. Summer is another busy season when students are preparing for the upcoming academic year.
  • Event staff. Many large events such as concerts, festivals, conferences, and sporting events require additional staff to help with tasks like ticketing, crowd control, set-up and tear-down, hospitality, and customer service. Event staffing agencies often hire temporary workers for these positions, allowing you to work during specific event seasons or periods of high demand.

Do any of these seasonal positions sound appealing? Brush up on certain job skills to make yourself more marketable.

You can find plenty more job ideas where these came from, but you need to know how to look for them.

How can you find seasonal work?

Seasonal work opportunities are everywhere. You just need to approach your job search with the right strategy.

Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your search.

Start early

Start your job search a few weeks or months ahead of the season.

This gives you plenty of time to find work. Starting early also means you’ll have more options. And the more options you have, the more likely you’ll end up with a job that you actually enjoy.

Analyze your abilities

Not every job is a good fit.

Even when looking for temporary employment, ensure you have the skills and background that match the job.

Look in the right places

There are a lot of different places to look for seasonal work.

Consider just a few:

  • Upwork. As a thriving center for all kinds of work, Upwork offers thousands of opportunities for job seekers to connect with companies looking for seasonal help. So if you’re on the hunt for seasonal work, Upwork is a great place to start.
  • Job boards. Job boards are a traditional place where employers post their job openings. With both physical and online locations, these can be great places to spot job opportunities in your local area.
  • Your network. You’ve likely met a lot of people over the years. Tap into this network to see if anybody’s looking for seasonal workers to get them through. Even if they don’t have any openings right now, they can let you know if something comes up later.
  • Career centers. If you’re pursuing a degree, your college probably has a career center. This can be an excellent resource to find temporary work during part of the year.

Find the best temporary and full-time positions on Upwork

When done right, seasonal work can meet the needs of both workers and companies.

Whether you’re looking for freelance opportunities or a full-time job, Upwork has a range of possibilities to fit your needs.

Looking for something more permanent and full time?

Use Upwork Full-Time to skip much of the ordinary hiring process, which is full of question marks and uncertainties. Instead, Upwork facilitates a process where companies and professionals can work together on a trial basis. If both sides enjoy working together, they can make it official with a full-time job offer.

This cuts down on interview stress, putting more emphasis on your actual work and results. It also gives you a chance to wow employers with your skills and earn a full-time position.


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Pros and Cons of Taking on Seasonal Work
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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