A seasonal job is a short-term position designed to fill a temporary need, usually related to the time of year. The summer jobs popularly held by students fit into this category, as do temporary positions — usually in retail and delivery — that open up in many markets around the winter holidays. Short-term construction and house painting jobs, work related to crops and agriculture, and many tourism positions may also follow seasonal schedules.
One of the defining characteristics of a seasonal job is that it is temporary — employers hire seasonal staff to fill a particular need that is not expected to last more than a few weeks or months. The timeline is usually set out at beginning so that employees are not surprised when the work ends. Students and others with structured obligations often enjoy the fixed nature of these jobs, as it allows them to make money when their schedules permit without having to commit to year-round availability.
Holiday Retail and Delivery Work
Temporary work over the Western hemisphere’s winter holidays — usually between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — is usually what most people think of when they hear the phrase “seasonal employment.” Many retailers experience a big influx during this season, and often need more workers than usual to meet the demand. In most cases it wouldn’t make sense for a company to permanently grow its staff, but adding a few short-lived positions is often a great way to ease the holiday burden.
The demand for delivery work also tends to increase during this period, and it is often possible to find seasonal work with the postal service or with private package delivery services. Sorting, tracking, and actual door-to-door delivery are all usually required in force during high volume gift giving seasons.
Tourism and Leisure-Related Services
In the warmer months, there are usually plenty of seasonal job openings within the tourism and entertainment sectors. Carnivals and amusement parks that are only open for part of the year are often good contenders. Travel agencies may also see an influx of bookings during this period, necessitating temporary office help; cruise ships, resorts, and hotels typically also hire seasonal staff members during particularly busy times. Seasonal employees in these types of jobs are often housed on-site, and many return year after year — though the promise of continued work is rarely ever guaranteed.
Crops by their very nature are cyclical, requiring more work at certain times of the year than at others. Many farms hire seasonal laborers to help harvest fruits and vegetables when they are ripe, for instance, or clear and seed fields just before growing begins. There is not usually enough work to be able to sustain a large team of farm hands year-round, but in certain seasons the work is often plentiful.
Many construction and outdoor renovation jobs are also contracted on a seasonal basis in climates with harsh winters, or in regions with a defined “rainy season.” While many construction professionals can keep busy during these “off” months by engaging in planning or interior projects, assistants are usually only required during the height of a project. Firms often hire assistants to help out with building campaigns through the spring and summer, either on a per-project basis or through a monthly retainer arrangement.
Cities and communities often contract out for work like snow plowing, lawn watering, and beach lifeguarding on a seasonal basis, as these are jobs that, in most places, can only be done during certain times of the year. People who take these jobs frequently have other sources of employment, and often pick up the tasks on a part-time or as-needed basis. Weather-dependent jobs can be difficult to predict; a year with surprisingly little snow, for instance, may mean that a seasonal snow plow driver has little to do.
Prospects for Future Employment
A seasonal job lacks the security and benefits of regular employment, but can nevertheless be a good deal in the right circumstances. Students often take seasonal jobs as a way of gaining some work experience, which can help fill out a resume and act as evidence of drive and dedication. People who are looking to break into a specific sector of employment — people who want to manage orchards of their own, for instance, or who have their heart set on winning a full-time position at a certain department store — may also start out as seasonal employees in order to gain industry experience and make contacts. Employers often take note of their best seasonal staff, and sometimes keep them in mind when more permanent openings come up.