What's the Difference Between Temporary and Contract Work?

Updated 20 March 2023

Temporary work and contract work are two options for people who enjoy changing jobs. You can find temporary and contract work in many industries and explore a variety of positions. If you're interested in taking a short-term job, it's important to understand the difference between temporary and contract work. In this article, we explain what temporary work is, show what contract work is and explore the major differences between the two.

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What is temporary work?

Temporary work is a type of work in which an employer hires an employee temporarily. Often, employers need temporary employees to fill vacant roles or help during busy periods. For example, retail companies often hire temporary employees during the holidays to help them accommodate more customers and higher demand. Sometimes, temporary employees have the opportunity to transition into permanent positions. Usually, they work for as long as companies need them to fill positions.

Related: How To Find Work in Australia

Benefits of temporary work

Some of the benefits of temporary work include:

Adding new resume credentials

One benefit of working as a temporary employee is the opportunity to add new credentials to your resume. You can use a temporary job as an opportunity to learn new skills and develop your professional experience. You can also fill gaps between jobs with a temporary position.

Opportunity for permanent employment

Another benefit of temporary employment is that it can give you the opportunity to transition to permanent employment. This can vary by employers, but some employers offer temporary employees permanent positions once their temporary employment period was over. You can increase your chances of getting offered a permanent job by demonstrating a strong work ethic and performing quality work.

Related: What Is a Fixed-Term Contract? (Definition and FAQs)

Getting hired quickly

Employers with temporary employment opportunities often hire employees quickly. This can be beneficial if you want to start working soon. You can find employers who are willing to fill roles quickly by noting on your resume that you're open to starting a position immediately.

What is contract work?

Contract work is a type of employment in which an employer hires an employee on a contract basis. Both the employer and the employee agree to the terms of the contract before the employment period begins. Usually, an employer pays contract team members for their entire project rather than for their time. Contract employees can often set their own pay rates and enjoy other autonomy.

Related: How To Get a Gig Job

Benefits of contract work

Some benefits of contract work are:


One benefit of contract work is flexibility. Typically, contract workers can work flexible hours, which can allow them to prioritise work-life balance. Frequently, they can also enjoy the flexibility to work remotely.


Another benefit of contract work is autonomy. Contract workers usually have the autonomy to set their own schedules and pay rates. They can also choose which jobs they accept.

Difference between temporary and contract work

If you're interested in working on a temporary or contract basis, it's important to understand how the two options differ. Some of the major differences between these two types of work include:

  • Duration: Typically, the duration of temporary work is not predetermined. However, contract work usually has a set duration.

  • Predictability: Contract work is usually fairly predictable, as employees understand the terms of their contract. Temporary work, however, tends to be less predictable.

  • Payment: Temporary employees typically receive payment hourly, while contractors usually get paid for an entire contract period.

Related: What Is a Subcontractor Job and How Does It Work? (Plus Skills and Benefits)

Tips for working as a temporary or contract employee

Here are some tips for making the most of your temporary or contract work:

Create an impressive resume

One tip for working as a temporary or contract employee is to craft a strong resume. This can help you connect with potential employers, which can lead to job opportunities. In your resume, it's important to focus on your specific skills and certifications in your industry. You can create separate resume sections that contain your skills and certifications in bulleted lists.

It can also be effective to write a professional summary statement, which is a brief paragraph that highlights your top qualifications and the types of jobs that interest you. For example, as a web development contract worker, your professional summary statement could say, Experienced web developer skilled in front-end development and user interface design. Seeking contract web developer positions in the Sydney area.

Take the opportunity to learn new skills

Another tip for making the most of your temporary or contract work is to take opportunities to practice your skills and learn new ones. You can advance your skills by practising them in real-world situations, completing professional training and taking online courses. Try to focus on obtaining the skills that are in demand in your industry, as this can help you stay competitive.

Related: Guide: How To Get a Job

Build your professional network

You can also take opportunities to build your professional network as a temporary or contract employee. Try to connect with people from different companies as you work in different jobs. Having an expansive professional network can help you find job opportunities in the future. You can ask your professional connections for company recommendations or ask if they know of any open jobs.

Earn certifications

Earning certifications is another way that you can improve your value as a candidate for temporary and contract jobs. Having certifications can show potential employers that you have professional training in your industry. You can research the certifications that are in high demand in your industry, and you can also search for certifications that can equip you with essential skills and knowledge. For example, if you work in marketing, you could pursue certifications in inbound marketing or social media marketing. If you choose to earn certifications, be sure to add them to your resume.

Periodically search for jobs

Another tip for working as a contract or temporary worker is to conduct periodic job searches. This can help you find job opportunities as soon as employers post them. You can also sign up for job search websites so you can get notifications when employers post new opportunities.

Related: What Are the Different Types of Employment?

Temporary and contract labour FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions related to temporary and contract labour:

How long can you work on a contract?

Many people are curious about how long they can work on a contract. It's important to note that the length of a contract can vary by employer. Typically, the employer determines this before the employment begins. Temporary employees, however, usually work for as long as their employers need them to fill a role.

How can you find temporary and contract jobs?

There are many routes you can take to find temporary and contract jobs. You can search job posting websites and the websites of companies that you're interested in working for. You can also use your professional network to find job opportunities.

You can also create a profile on a freelancing website to take jobs on a gig basis. This means that you could take jobs for a short amount of time or for a single project.

Related: How To Find the Best Jobs for You

What skills do you need to work as a temporary or contract employee?

Some essential skills for people who work as temporary or contract employees include:

  • Communication: Communication is an important skill for these types of work because it can help them interact with their clients and understand their job responsibilities.

  • Following directions: It's also important for contract and temporary employees to know how to follow directions carefully. This is because they need to learn the expectations and duties of each job quickly and perform their jobs accurately.

  • Professionalism: These employees can also use strong skills in professionalism to work effectively with clients.

  • Administrative skills: Temporary and contract workers often need administrative skills to manage their own schedules and pay rates and keep track of different applications and opportunities.

  • Adaptability: Because these types of workers frequently change jobs and take on new responsibilities, they need to know how to adapt to different situations.

  • Technical skills: These workers should also take the time to develop the specific technical skills required for their industries.

Do temporary and contract workers get company benefits?

Many people interested in temporary or contract work are interested in getting company benefits. Typically, temporary and contract workers do not receive company benefits. However, companies sometimes offset this by offering higher pay rates for these workers.

Related: Breaking into Permanent Work with a Contract Background

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