If you’ve looked for post-transition jobs, you might have noticed “seasonal employment” available.
These are just what they sound like: a job available only for a certain period. Are they worth pursuing? Here are the answers to your questions about seasonal employment.
Why would I consider summer/seasonal employment?
Seasonal employment is ideal for service members using their GI bill for college, because it usually fits their academic schedule and allows students earn additional money when they’re not in class. Because seasonal employment can provide work experience, it may also be an opportunity to “pad your resume” while in school. Realistically, however, prospective employers won’t pay attention to past seasonal jobs unless they’re related to the job being offered.
Seasonal employment is also good for recent college graduates, who may have a permanent job lined up starting several months down the road and need work to fill the intervening time.
Seasonal employment may also help you to break into a job: if you sufficiently impress the supervisors with your seasonal work, they might hire you for permanent work. Most companies, however, will put seasonal and permanent work candidates into different hiring pools, making it rare that a seasonal employee is offered full-time employment.
What are seasonal jobs?
Generally seasonal employment is low-skilled labor such as bartending, janitorial work, or “general labor” like basic machine operation. It is often classified as part-time, and therefore comes without benefits. For these reasons, seasonal employment as a primary job is a poor fit for transitioning military, who are used to benefits like health insurance and who usually qualify as skilled laborers.
Why do companies offer seasonal employment?
Companies need seasonal employment to fill jobs either left temporarily empty by vacationing employees or created by a seasonal spike in business, which include retail, food service, or hospitality positions in popular tourist destinations.
Where can I find seasonal employment?
Manufacturing and service jobs are most likely to offer seasonal employment, for connected reasons. Manufacturing companies need a certain amount of people running their production lines, or they don’t make product to sell. If enough employees take vacation, they may not be able to operate.
Likewise, service industries like hotels and restaurants need additional help to handle tourists. The best place to find seasonal employment is to look in the classifieds or online (craigslist and company websites are good places to start), as many companies post aggressively to fill their needs. Alternatively, you could register as a temp worker with a staffing service, though in that situation you have less control over the jobs available to you.
What questions should I ask before accepting seasonal employment?
First, ask whether you will be an employee or a contractor. It’s better to be considered an employee, so the company is required to pay you on a set schedule, and must withhold federal/state income taxes for on a W-2 form (like you have in the military).
But it’s common for employers to offer seasonal employment as contract work, because it’s less work for them–they only have to report how much they paid you once, at tax time, with a form 1099. There is no tax withholding from a form 1099, so you plan to owe federal/state taxes on the whole amount.
Second, ask how much work is available. If an employer is ramping up for increased business, they will probably provide steady hours and a steady paycheck. But if you are filling in jobs that are temporarily vacant, you might find yourself working only several days a week (or less!). Remember that the number of hours you work often has a bigger impact that your wage on the total amount of money you’ll make.
Finally, ask for job training. Seasonal employment exists to fill a need by the company, which can sometimes means you get be stuck hurriedly in a job without being explained how or what to do. At best, it’s frustrating; at worst, it’s dangerous. Make sure you get someone to show you the ropes.
What are the benefits of seasonal employment?
Seasonal employment is an easy way to fill a need during college, or before taking up a more permanent job. It’s also a great way to gain employment experiences, references, or ‘credit’ with a desirable company before you apply for a full-time job. But keep your expectations reasonable–usually these jobs are not gateways to a career.