How do Contract & Temp Jobs Work

Gigs, gig workers, temps, and temp-to-hire–these are all terms that may come to mind when you think of a contract job. These titles describe the nature of the job because companies often hire workers for different positions and lengths of time. But how do contract and temp jobs really work?

Indeed explains it well: “Contract employees are individuals hired for a specific project or a certain time frame for a set fee. Often, contract employees are hired due to their expertise in a particular area and are usually hired for projects that require niche expertise for a short-term project. Rather than hire a full-time, long-term employee with that expertise, a company chooses to hire a contractor for the duration of the project.”

Every contract or temp job is different, and many times there is the possibility of getting hired full-time. If you’re seeking contract work, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider.

What you need to know

Firstly, it’s important to understand that independent contractors are classified differently than internal employees by the IRS for tax purposes. Contract employees typically receive 1099 tax forms rather than W2 tax forms. This can vary, however, and in some cases when working with a staffing agency, you may still receive W2 tax forms.

You may also want to take note of the following:

  • Length of assignment: Many contract jobs are full-time and have a definitive project start and end date. While some jobs may last as little as one month, others could be long-term, and in some cases, go on for years.
  • Hours: Some contractual jobs require employees to work specific hours, while others allow workers to set their own schedules.
  • Background check: Even though the assignment may not be permanent, many employers still require contract workers to complete a criminal background check and drug screen.
  • Expenses: In many cases, it is the responsibility of the contracted worker to pay for business and travel expenses. If hired on a 1099 status, you will want to ensure that you keep track of all of your expenses and hold on to your receipts for tax time.


If you’re weighing out the pros and cons, there are a myriad of potential benefits of contract jobs including:

  • Work a flexible schedule
  • Gain new and different skills in a short amount of time
  • Earn higher pay in lieu of benefits
  • Get your foot in the door with a company
  • Test out the company culture and job before making a long-term commitment

Getting hired full-time

Although it is not a guarantee, it is certainly possible for a contract job to turn into full-time employment. Many companies hire for what’s known as temp-to-hire or contract-to-hire roles. This leaves the door open for the position to potentially become a full-time permanent role should the contractor be a good fit.

In some cases, employers will consider converting a contract employee to full-time within as little as 90 days. Every company and situation is different, so be sure that the expectations are made clear upfront.

As a job seeker, think of contract work as a unique opportunity to take a “test drive” with a company. You certainly don’t want to be stuck in a job or culture that is not right for you. While on the job, take initiative, keep an open mind, and build relationships.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” — Steve Jobs

SURESTAFF works with a number of clients who reach out when they have specific or niche jobs available for projects. When a role is presented, our recruiters contact job seekers with the right skills to gauge their interest and availability. Ready to get started? Contact us today and join our database! Find out more about working as a temp with our new guide.


About the Author


Kim Kim Wacker - Authoris a seasoned content marketing professional with over twelve years of corporate communications experience. Her sweetspot is with creative writing both short and long-form, and she has a proven track record working with IBM, Jackson Healthcare, and Walt Disney World, among many others. Kim is also a singer and actress and has been performing on stage and screen her entire life and has a great passion for TV and film production. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn