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Permanent vs Temporary/Contract Work

There are lots of opinions on whether temporary or permanent work is better.

If you are a job seeker looking for employment, or considering changing careers, you may be asking yourself, which should I choose? It is important to know the type of work you are looking for.

Before applying for a job, questions you should reflect on include:

  • Where do I want to go in my career?
  • What are my skills and qualifications?
  • What are my finances like?
  • What is my lifestyle?
  • Can I relocate for a position?

Let’s take a closer look at the differences, as well as 3 advantages vs. 3 disadvantages of each type of work arrangement, so you can make an informed decision of what is best for you.

What is Temporary or Contract Work?

Temporary work refers to an employment situation where the working arrangement is limited to a certain period of time with a set end date. Temporary work typically lasts from a few days to several months, based on the needs of the employer.

Advantages of Temporary Work

  • Resume gaps: Many employers don’t like to see gaps in your work history and by filling them, even with temporary work, demonstrates you are hirable. If you have been out of the workplace for a little while and/or if permanent roles are limited in your field, taking a temporary job, demonstrates your hardworking and committed nature and your ability to adapt quickly to a new role and any environment.
  • Maintain income: A short-term job can ensure you continue to earn money during your search for a permanent position.
  • Changing career fields: If you want to transition to a different field, you may need relevant experience before applying for a permanent job. By working temporary jobs, you may be able to gain sufficient experience or even make professional connections in the industry.

Disadvantages of Temporary Work

  • Not a ‘real’ team member: If your coworkers suspect you won’t be working there for long, they may be less inclined to form a bond with you – equally, you may feel the same. You may be excluded from a lot of business/team related meetings or social gatherings.
  • Lack of benefits: Temporary workers get paid exactly for the hours they work. Generally, they do not receive the same benefits provided to permanent workers.
  • Financially inconsistent: Temporary jobs are not always available, especially if it is for something specific. If a regular, steady income is important for you, temporary work may not be ideal.

What is Permanent Work?

Permanent work refers to a position in which you are a part or full-time employee, with a certain amount of hours you work each week and there is no predetermined end date.

Advantages of Permanent Work

  • Paid time off: Most permanent part and full-time positions include a certain number of days off per year for vacation and sick days, as well as, compassionate leave. This time off gives you a break or allows you to recover from an illness/injury, without worrying about missing a paycheck or losing your job.
  • Benefits: Many employers provide full-time permanent employees with health care coverage which covers additional health care benefits, dental coverage and other benefits. Often you can extend coverage to your spouse or children, protecting your family.
  • Long-term career planning: Permanent employees can lay the groundwork for a successful career with a single business. They are able to gain experience, build connections and if you perform well, you can climb the corporate ladder, advance your career and earn more money.

Disadvantages of Permanent Work

  • Stuck in a Routine: Permanent roles are often limited in scope, focused on deliverables and the work become monotonous, especially if you perform the same tasks daily. As you get used to performing the same tasks, your skills may diminish in other areas.
  • Extended hours: Permanent employees may feel the need to work long hours. This can lead to burnout and an unhealthy work-life balance.
  • It may (eventually) hurt your resume: Having a full-time, permanent position on your resume can show stability and responsibility. However, to some employers, if you remain stagnant in one role with that company, after a certain point, it may suggest a lack of passion and desire to grow. This may set you up with roadblocks when you start looking for other positions.