Should You Take a Short-term Job? Why or Why Not?

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Career Advice

Whether you left or lost a job, unemployment can weaken your confidence and drive you into survival mode. In the beginning, taking a short-term job might seem like giving up on your dream career, but any prospects start looking attractive as the job search drags on. Short-term jobs can be a help instead of a hindrance, as long as you use them to further your goals, rather than acting out of desperation.

Why You Should Consider Temporary Work

When you're pursuing a professional career or skilled trade, accepting a job that doesn't make the most of your expertise may feel like lowering your standards. Many short-term jobs don't involve a skill set and compensation consistent with your education and experience, so it's natural to be concerned about them having a negative impact on your resume. You may also be reluctant to dive into a temporary situation if it distracts you from your primary goal.

However, financial pressures are bound to surface, especially if you didn't plan ahead for unemployment. Any unexpected expense can come along and wipe out your savings. Job hunting is time-consuming and unpredictable, and you lose competitiveness as a candidate the longer you stay unemployed. This period of uncertainty can be demoralizing and emotionally draining if no strong leads surface early on, and a persistent sense of doubt only makes it harder to stay driven. Not to mention, many employers are so slow to make hiring decisions that you may end up waiting weeks or months for interviews and job offers even with promising opportunities on the horizon.

In light of these factors, a short-term job can offer peace of mind and stability while you look for the right opportunity. Having regular income is a confidence booster, and being less stressed about financial strain allows you to think clearly about the pros and cons of a job offer. Moreover, every job exposes you to new equipment, software, people and problem-solving strategies, adding skills to your arsenal and expanding your network of contacts. Temporary work puts you in contact with diverse people who can provide referrals, leads or testimonials, and you may even discover interests that take your career in a new direction.

When to Say No to Short-Term Jobs

Although short-term jobs offer growth potential, not every position is worth taking. Working at a company with a terrible reputation and high turnover is usually a bad idea because the negative energy can easily leech into your job search. When you finally land an interview, you want to be in an upbeat mindset and be able to speak positively about your work.

Choosing a job that isn't mentally or physically taxing is also a good idea, as you need energy and enthusiasm to keep networking, hunting for leads and contacting hiring managers. However, don't allow others to define what is or isn't acceptable. If a lower-skilled job offers the balance you need to make a good career move, it's your best option in the long run.

If you're worried about having a short-term job on your resume, remember you can leave off a position you only held a few months. All jobs involve skills you can successfully market to an employer, so it's up to you to highlight the value you brought to the role.

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    I have to be honest my experience taking contracts has been pretty great. The key is to leverage your skill set & education.

  • Eugene M.
    Eugene M.

    Something short term can be found through Manpower and other job service companies. Where I live, I have seen many types of short term jobs. I am weeks short of 65 and recently took a full time job, 30 day probation period, and was let go after 4 days. They gave a bunch of excuses, but I believe they found out how old I am. I think short term can be very beneficial, because it can make you organize your time and life and help you think about what you want to do, without being stuck in a full time job you don't want. Jobs are out there, you just have to go for it. Good luck.


    I turned down a temporary job for the month of March, which was my last month of receiving. NYS Dept. of Labor said I could refuse a job paying less than $25/hr. I did nothing wrong! The temp job was for $10/hr with no leeway to go on an interview if the chance arose. NYS withheld my benefits. I am under investigation. If I had known that would happen, I would have taken the job. Just thought I would share this for those of you collecting benefits.

  • James Sullivan
    James Sullivan

    I lost my job in late 2016 after 14.9 years, I have 24 years in the field of safety and regulatory safety compliance. I have been unable to find a job, so I went back to school in December for a BS in OSH. If I am out of work for a year and six months while going to school, will it look bad to prospective employers in the future?

  • John L.
    John L.

    So, this is my short-term job for now.

  • John L.
    John L.

    I currently have a job that pays the bills, but with part-time hours. Sk


    When I was younger, I always took short-term jobs until I could find something in my profession (proofreading, which is much less in demand today). Now at age 60, I take a short-term job but am let go soon after (I wasn't fast enough, I wasn't "up to par," the company hired too many temps, etc.). With six years since I had a long-term job and my retirement account all used up, I am on the verge of losing my apartment. Where is a good place to look for short-term work that will last until I can find something long-term?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jerry Bartee thanks for your comment. Yes it's true - everyone is looking which is why you have to make yourself look better than everyone else. Or you need to be willing to take something that is sort of up your skill tree but maybe outside of what you are used to. Sometimes a job is just a job - just something that you do to keep a roof over your head and food on the table while you continue searching for THE job. @Robert T. I find it hard to understand why you would want to drive for a company like Uber but not make any money? Sure it's great to be out - to meet all kinds of people but you should be getting paid at the same time!


    Driving for Uber is the only thing that relieved the worst depression I ever experienced. I considered it a community service that I was offering, as I made no money driving. The interaction with other people from all different walks of life made it worthwhile. Just a routine helps a lot as well.

  • Jerry Bartee
    Jerry Bartee

    Short term is tough cause everyone's looking for it. Finding one close to your skill tree is even harder.

  • Andrei K.
    Andrei K.

    I can relate to the stress factor of unemployment.

  • Ernesto Román L.
    Ernesto Román L.

    Great article with an excelent advice.

  • David G.
    David G.

    One important point left out is companies are more apt to hire an employed person than a unemployed.

  • Eileen Pico
    Eileen Pico

    Great advice! In my 30 year career, I've had a few temporary jobs and I have learned LOTS from all of them!

  • S Santan K.
    S Santan K.

    yes, I am going through the same phase,

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