Nelson Family Portrait: Kim Barragan

At Nelson, we’re more than the largest independent staffing company in California — we’re a family. As a part of our ongoing “Nelson Family Portrait” series, we’re interviewing the members of our team who help us achieve our “big picture” goal of putting California to work. 
Today, we’re talking to Kim Barragan, Vice President of Client Delivery Programs, based in Santa Rosa. 

Tell us about what you do at Nelson:

I currently manage our large enterprise clients.

What did you do before Nelson?

I was with Spherion for 13 years. When I left, I was onsite managing a 13-million-dollar payrolling client. I started as a direct-hire recruiter and also worked an account manager. Prior to Spherion, I worked in the hotel industry as a general manager.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The team I work with currently.  Everyone is always willing to help out and do anything they need to ensure we meet our goals for the client and Nelson!


What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to spend time with my husband and three boys. I am a sports fan, and I love the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Cowboys. Any time I can get to the beach is a win!

What’s the last thing you read? 

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

I would love to fly. 😊

Why Nelson? 

We all work very hard at Nelson, and it is not about the individual, but about the team.  The way that Nelson cares about people and the community is something I have never seen before in my career.

Want to join the “family?” Check out our open jobs here!

In addition to providing comprehensive data on salary and workplace trends, this year’s guide also includes a section with job seeker and employee responses to questions about job-seeking trends, employer brand, and workplace arrangements.

To ring in the New Year, Nelson announces the release of our annual Advisor and Salary Guide. This comprehensive annual resource helps California employers compete for talent in an increasingly competitive employment landscape year after year. Employers who have received the guide in the past will be pleased to see updates to the locally-tailored salary data for more than 200 positions in a variety of markets throughout the state, as well as both new and comparative data about California workplace trends.

New in 2019 is the update to the annual Workplace Trends Report: This report is generated from a proprietary survey of more than 500 business leaders throughout California to examine economic and workforce-related trends influencing business success. The 2019 Report not only compares year-over-year survey responses, but also includes a brand-new section generated from the responses of over 500 California job seekers and employees. This new section examines job-seeking methods, the importance of employer brand, and preferred work arrangements — information that can be used by employers to better position themselves as employers of choice in the tightening talent market.

“California consistently reveals itself to be a land of golden opportunities for both employers and employees,” said Joe Madigan, chief executive officer of Nelson. “While unemployment remains so low, however, employers need an increasingly nuanced understanding of what offerings both attract and keep talent if they want to seize those opportunities in 2019.”

The Workplace Trends Report in Nelson’s 2019 Advisor and Salary Guide reveals key insights into workplace trends important for budgeting for and planning for talent acquisition and retention efforts in the upcoming year. Overall, the takeaways from this report suggest that in 2019:

  1. More employees will consider themselves “job seekers”
    Talent acquisition and retention remain the top two concerns for employers, as more employees keep one toe in the recruiting pool.
  2. Economic stability will keep driving recruiting and retention instability
    Business is good – but just because the bottom line is meeting expectations doesn’t mean that employers should rest on their laurels. Economic stability means a harsher road ahead for recruiting and retention.
  3. Overcoming obstacles to hiring will start with a better understanding of employee needs.

Employees face a number of obstacles, as home prices remain some of the highest in the country and wage growth remains below inflation. Employers that understand what their employees need to enjoy their lives both in and out of work will be those who attract and keep the best talent.

You can request your copy and read the top takeaways from the report in more depth here.

…we’re looking back at a year of dedicated philanthropy at Nelson!

When Joe Madigan became CEO of the company at the beginning of this year, he had a mission: to codify the philanthropic nature of the Nelson family into company policy. With a committee made up of dedicated employees representing multiple departments across the company, they formed the “Nelson beCAUSE” program.

beCAUSE Nelson’s employees live and play in the communities in which we work, it was important for Joe and the team to make it easy for us to give back.

(You can read all about Joe’s philosophy on and tips for implementing corporate philanthropy on LinkedIn.)

The Nelson beCAUSE program allows employees to double their impact by issuing employee matches for monetary donations, volunteer at their favorite charities during work hours, and participate in company-sponsored charity events.

We’ve had the chance to donate our time and money to multiple events and charities throughout the state this year. Here are some of our favorite moments of philanthropic work during our first year of the program:

Nelson's Southern California Team fills joy jars for the Jessie Rees Foundation

Jessie Rees Foundation

Our Southern California team got together to share joy and hope by encouraging children with cancer to “Never Ever Give Up.” The team donated their time to the Jessie Rees Foundation by filling “joy jars” and writing notes of encouragement and positivity for hospitalized children.


Nelson's Southern California team at the Orange County Juvenile Diabetes Walk

Juvenile Diabetes Walk in Anaheim

The SoCal team got together again to support “Jack’s Jiants” during a walk to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes awareness. The whole office got together on a Sunday morning to walk around Anaheim stadium and support the cause.

Nelson's NorCal team volunteers with the 49ers and Convoy of HopeConvoy of Hope

Nelson’s NorCal team set up in Levi’s Stadium to do what they do best: help connect people to great jobs. Through their partnership with the 49ers, Nelson team members volunteered their time, assisting Bay Area families with job assistance and resume building – and even helping kids with plenty of arts and crafts!

CEO Joe Madigan shows off his Nelson pride (and his crown) at the Make A Wish Plunge in the BayMake-a-Wish Brave the Bay

2018 culminated in our biggest charitable event of the year: Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-a-Wish foundation’s “Brave the Bay” event. Because Make-a-Wish granted a wish for Joe’s daughter Chloe nine years ago, this cause is near and dear to Nelson’s heart. Nelson joined team Chloe to participate in the 5K fun run and the freezing cold plunge in the Bay.

Team Nelson exceeded its goal, raising over $6000 to grant wishes to children in the Bay Area who are fighting serious illnesses – and as an added bonus, because the team reached its goal, Joe had to jump in the bay in a tutu and sparkly crown…and stay in for a full minute!

In addition to these events, we’ve given thousands of dollars in grants to worthy causes across California, matched donations from our employees, gone “red” for the Heart Association, and allowed our employees to spend time personally volunteering for causes like Dress for Success.

This year has truly been one for the books. And we’re just getting started! Keep an eye on the Nelson LinkedIn page for photos and recaps from next year’s events. Until then, we wish you joy during this holiday season and a very Happy New Year!


At Nelson, we’re more than the largest independent staffing company in California — we’re a family. As a part of our ongoing “Nelson Family Portrait” series, we’re interviewing the members of our team who help us achieve our “big picture” goal of putting California to work. 
Today, we’re talking to Rita Deitos, a Senior Account Manager in Orange County.

Tell us about what you do at Nelson:

I manage, expand and develop new and existing business for Staffing, Accounting and Engineering roles.

What did you do before Nelson?

I was an Account Executive at a different staffing firm.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Meeting and establishing key relationships with people, as well as building long term partnerships. I also love changing people’s lives.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Travel, exercise, eat in great restaurants, and drink fabulous wine — and, of course, shop!

Rita Deitos at a philanthropic event

What’s the last thing you read?

Girl Wash Your Face!: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The ability to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight — oh and the power to give all animals homes.

Why Nelson?

When I came here 6 years ago to Nelson, I was drawn to the high level of customer service and commitment to our clients, and that is how I work every day!

Want to join the “family?” Check out our open jobs here!


Last week, Jennifer Shaw of Shaw Law Group joined Nelson for a webinar to discuss upcoming changes in California employment law. Below, we’ve provided her answers to questions that came up during the call.  

Please note that the information provided below is NOT legal advice. The speaker does not have an attorney-client relationship with you, and you should not take ANY action based on the information provided below without consulting the attorney with whom you regularly work. Also, please note that the responses below are not intended in ANY way to be complete. The speaker graciously agreed to provide a few thoughts with respect to each question, and those very brief thoughts are set forth below.  Thanks for understanding!

 Wages and Pay

  1. Suppose an employee answers a phone call after hours, and it lasts 10 minutes. What time are you required to pay for?

You would pay for the actual time worked based on your regular payroll practices (e.g., you pay a minimum of 15 minutes, actual time, etc.), provided the employee is not required to come into the office.

  1. If a nonexempt employee comes in to take care of an emergency order after hours, lives 45 minutes away, and is at the workplace for 45 minutes, is there a wage law that states he needs to be paid a minimum of 2 hours? Or does he only get paid for the time he clocked in and out?

Yes, two hours is the minimum. But in this case, the time he’s driving is not really commute time. So he would be paid for 2 hours and 15 minutes (90 minutes driving and 45 minutes at work).

  1. Can you please speak to how we pay employees if they text regarding work after hours. We have a policy to not do that, unless it is an emergency or if they are going to be late or sick, but what happens if they do it anyway? 

Don’t mess with the money. If they answer a text, you pay them in the smallest increment that you pay anybody for that work, and then you discipline them. What you want to be clear on is that you’re not withholding the money as a disciplinary action.

  1. Can you define “waiting time?” Is it the same thing as “on-call time?”

Sometimes “on-call” time includes “waiting time”: you might have heard the term “engaged to wait.” So, assume my boss tells me, I might need you on Monday, but I won’t know until 11:00 a.m. and you’ve got to be ready to come to work. You’re engaging me to wait from my start time until 11:00 a.m.  when you call me. That’s on-call time that has to be paid. What we mean by waiting time penalties are the 30 days of wages required to be paid by Labor Code section 203 to former employees because they had to wait to get paid. For example, you consider me an exempt employee, and then when I quit, I claim that you misclassified me and I should have been paid by the hour.  If I win, I will receive back pay and waiting time penalties.

  1. Does company phone number need to be listed on paystub?

No. It’s not required by law. I think it’s a good idea if you can do it, because you want to show the court that you’re making this as easy as possible for employees to find you.

  1. When a current or former employee requests payroll records, how long does the employer have to provide that information?

Labor Code section 226 says you have 21 days to do that. All you have to give are the itemized wage statements. Not the schedule, not the punch correction forms, not the requests for a day off. In a litigation, you have to give them everything. But this is pre-litigation.

  1. Can we give a candidate a salary range?

Yes, you can give them a range. The new amendments make that clear.

Independent Contractors and 1099

  1. Can you speak more about “usual course of business” for independent contractor status?

Sure.  The concept is that the contractor is regularly providing similar services to other clients.  So it’s not about the employee who retired and wants to come back a few days a week as a “1099.”  Join us for our upcoming webinar, which will address everything contractor related.  Here is a link to our website:  Our 2019 sessions will be posted by December 1.

  1. Can a bookkeeper be considered a 1099 if they only on occasion do the books like an accountant?

No, not unless they own their own separate business and have a separate taxpayer ID number. They don’t necessarily have to have another employee, but they have to be a business. It can’t just be that they go on maternity leave and do bookkeeping at home for the company and you “1099” them. It doesn’t work that way.

  1. Are there any reasons why a MD cannot be 1099 in CA?

There’s a very big reason: they’re usually being directed how to perform their services and when to report for a shift, for example. What usually happens is that medical practices make the MDs partners instead of independent contractors. They often receive a regular paycheck and distributions throughout the year (so they would receive a W-2 and a K-1).  But I am not a tax expert, so don’t trust me on this one!

  1. Can an IT professional be a 1099?

An individual IT professional very likely cannot be. But you can have an IT company that’s a vendor.

  1. What impact does Dynamex (a California Supreme Court Case that reinterpreted and rejected a test to determine who is an employee and who is a contractor) have on ERs such as Uber, Lyft, etc.?

There’s a term called the “gig economy,” and we have people at Uber and Lyft, for example, who are going around doing our errands, driving us places, that sort of thing. They have been treated as contractors in the past, but recent policies implemented by these companies are making them look more like regular employees. For example, Uber drivers can’t drive more than 12 hours a day. I don’t work for these companies, so I can’t tell you what their thought process is. But they’ve lost some cases, and they’re going to continue to lose some cases.


  1. When you mentioned telling the employee the truth of why they were let go, but only told them because business is slow and then later that week we hired a new employee can that hurt us if they find out?

Yes, particularly if the employee claims that the decision was made for unlawful reasons, like based on a protected characteristic.

  1. Do employers have to give out the 60 day warn notice if covered by a CBA that covers layoffs with different time frame language?

Maybe.  There are very specific requirements under WARN and Cal-WARN.  The answer will depend in part on how your CBA is written.  If it looks like they are covered by one or both of these laws, I usually tell our union clients is to just do the notice.  If the layoff information is already in the handbook, it’s not going to be a surprise to the employees anyway.  At least you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s with WARN and CALWARN. You won’t end up with that liability, which can be significant.


  1. Is the OSHA rule for 250+ employees per location, or company in total?


  1. Do all employers have to submit the Cal OSHA 300 report or just those 250 employees and over?

It depends on what industry you’re in. has good information on this issue.

  1. Was the Cal OSSHA 300A forms due on 12/32/18 for employers with 250 or more employees?

Generally, yes, but there a few industries that are covered even if they have fewer than 250 employees.

Gender Parity, #Metoo, and Lactation

  1. Will SB826 (a new law requiring publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on the board of directors by the end of 2019) apply to non-profits?

No, right now it only applies to publicly-traded companies. When the legislature passed AB1825, requiring EEO training for supervisors, I said, “This is their first step.” And the next thing we’re going to see is that we’re going to need all employees to be trained. So, what did we get this year? All of the employees have to be trained if you have 5 or more employees. Ultimately, that’s what’s going to happen here, if they don’t see employers, non-profit or otherwise, responding appropriately.

  1. For the new portion of AB1825, where all employees need to have harassment training, must it be done in other languages besides English?

What the law says is that if you know that there are employees who can’t understand it, you better do it in another language. It’s not about checking the box. That doesn’t mean you have to have a separate session for every employee who speaks another language. A lot of our clients do a training in English and then have an interpreter there for folks who want to ask specific questions if there’s something they didn’t understand. But if you know that you have a group of employees who don’t speak or aren’t proficient in English, then you’re going to have to offer it in another language, or at least offer a handout in a different language.

  1. How long do we need to allow an employee to breast feed? An employee is still breast feeding after 3 years from birth.

I love this question. The thing that’s so interesting is your perspective. It’s part of the connection for some moms and their kids. The bottom line is: it’s none of our business. If the mom says she’s nursing at 3 years old, mind your own business and let her do her thing.

  1. What if we cannot provide a location for nursing because the location is an old building, and we are a retail store with 5 employees in SF. The back location is storage for shoes and very small.

You have to come up with something, particularly because the rule in SF is so strict.  Here’s link that will help you:


  1. We have an employee that was given a title upon hire that is beyond the scope of their actual work. (We’ve designated them as a more senior position than they actually are.)   Thoughts as to how to change their title in a clear and sensitive way?

Ooh.  This one depends on the culture, etc.  I really can’t give a good answer without knowing more about the organization.  That said, if the employee is at will, you can do whatever you want, so long as you are acting in good faith.

  1. We are a manufacturing company, and I instruct the employees and temps that we ask for them to speak English only while on the production floor, for safety, so everyone knows what’s going on. I also add that we have folks from many places and are welcome to speak other languages on breaks, etc., as long as they are not offending anyone. Is this an issue?

There’s a really important case called Garcia vs. Spun-Steak Co., which is a California case. The court said that if you’re requiring English for safety, security, supervision, or morale, you’re probably okay. It’s probably worth getting some legal advice, because the EEOC and the DFEA are hot on this issue. If they come to audit you or someone calls to complain about something else, and they find out that you have a supposed “English-only” rule, they’re going to be intrigued. I wouldn’t call it an “English-only” rule, and I would put it in the safety section of the handbook, but you would want to be strategic about how you do it.

  1. Do employee handbooks need to be available in both English and Spanish?

Only if you have Spanish-speaking employees who don’t have a sufficient command of English.  Remember, the point of the handbook is to make sure the person knows what you expect of them. If you have a contingent of Spanish-speaking employees who may be able to argue that they don’t understand what’s in that English handbook, you’d better invest.  And with the web, it’s easy to do that translation. It’s just not that expensive anymore.

  1. Regarding sponsorship & H1B, as a company, we have made a decision to not sponsor potential employees. We currently ask on our application if they need sponsorship now or in the future. Are we okay asking that?  Is it legal for a company to not provide sponsorship?   

We do not specialize in immigration law.  Sorry.

A well-respected expert in employment law for more than 20 years, Jennifer Shaw is the founder of Shaw Law Group. She has been named by Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine as one of the top attorneys in CA every year since 2009, and she provides practical advice and counsel on a broad range of employment law issues, including wage-hour compliance, reasonable accommodation/leave of absence issues, and hiring/separation issues.
 For more content like this, make sure to register for our upcoming webinars and events.

Today’s guest post was written by Geoff Coon, Founder of RP Career, a high-touch resume writing and career services firm.

One of the scariest parts of being a job seeker is submitting your resume to the dreaded “ATS”, otherwise known as an Applicant Tracking System. You spend hours perfecting your resume to get the right blend of skills, accomplishments, and experience, so the thought of being disqualified before anyone even looks at your resume can be gut-wrenching.

There are thousands of different kinds of ATS’s out there, and some are better than others. That’s why it is impossible to guarantee your resume will be a 100% match for a particular position (we’ll get into this later). However, if you follow the three guidelines, you will be in a much, much better position than the majority of other applicants.

Have “ATS Friendly” Formatting

When thinking about ATS software, there are two ways you need to look at your resume: the ability TO BE scanned, and WHAT companies are scanning for.

The first is the most critical aspect. There are various things that can give ATS software significant difficulty with your resume, such as tables, text boxes, graphics, pre-formatted columns, etc. Again, some systems are better than others in their scanning ability, but the universal rule of resume writing is to avoid these formatting methods whenever possible.

For example, you may be a perfect fit for the position in every way, but if your name and contact information is embedded in a table or the header of the document, the hiring company literally may not even be able to see who you are or how to contact you. Make sure your resume is “100% ATS friendly” in its ability to be scanned.

Keyword Optimization

The second aspect of ATS software is WHAT the systems are scanning for. This is a much more difficult proposition, because every company may believe one skill is more valuable than another. For example, two separate companies post a job for an Account Manager. Same responsibilities, same qualifications, and you know you would be a rock star for both. So your resume is guaranteed to get past the ATS, right? Wrong. Let me explain.

Although the job postings are virtually identical, Company A might view “relationship management” as a key element of the position, whereas Company B might be more interested in a client with “contract” experience or “leadership” skills. Therefore, each company might weigh those specific keywords differently when scanning resumes.

With my clients, I approach the problem by looking for “trends.” If I have three job postings in front of me, I will go through each and highlight things that jump out to me as important. Once I’ve done that for each job, items that pop up in each job posting consistently would be trends, or things that are critical and are considered base foundational requirements for your resume. Once we’ve identified the trends that must be present in your resume, we weigh the importance of specific keywords in one direction or another.

Appropriate Section Titles & Structure

Remember howI mentioned above that “some ATS systems are better than others? Until every ATS system out there is perfect, the rest of us have to play the game — so it is important that your resume is structured correctly.

Although it might feel like you’re being unique by calling your “Experience” section “Career Chronology” or “Executive History,” that might work against you. ATS software often search for different triggers in a resume to know where to pull information. For example, if an ATS is searching for the word “Experience” and finds it, it might assume that everything in the section below that should populate the experience fields in their database. Pretty straightforward. On the other hand, let’s say you don’t have a college degree. So instead of an “Education” section you have a section called “Training & Certifications.” When the ATS system searches your resume for the phrase “Education” and doesn’t find it, that can disqualify your resume. A workaround for that scenario is to always include that word in the section title, such as “Education & Professional Development,” for example.

I apply the above strategies to every single one of my clients’ resumes. Although there is no way to guarantee your resume will meet 100% of ATS requirements for every position, if you employ the above tactics you will significantly improve your chances. Have additional questions? Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn and send me a message. I’m happy to connect.

If you would like to see how your resume stacks up, submit it for a free resume review by clicking on the following link:


Geoff Coon, a resume writer and linkedin profile expertGeoff Coon is the founder of RP Career, a high-touch resume writing and career services firm focused on quality. An expert in the career services industry, Geoff is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), has been quoted on Forbes multiple times, and has worked with thousands of clients to better position them in their careers. 

To learn more about Geoff, visit or connect with him on LinkedIn

Looking for more tips on resume writing? Check out more blog posts from Nelson! 

Your tickets are booked, your bags are packed, and you’re ready for the holiday season. Only one obstacle stands in between you and your Thanksgiving meal: you’ve still got deadlines to meet while you’re on the road. How will you maintain your productivity during the holidays? Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to clocking out in time for Turkey Day.

1. Make a Plan

When you’re at home or in the office, it’s easy to maintain a “groove.” But when you’re on the road and dealing with unfamiliar surroundings, travel stressors, and other people’s priorities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or distracted.

Make a plan for success: Before you leave for your trip, write out a “to do” list and rank it by priority. Then break down the steps it will take to achieve each task. If you know you’ll need Wi-Fi to work on one item, then save it for a day when you know will have access. Need a long stretch of time to buckle down and concentrate? Schedule that item for when you’re on a plane. And if you need a good way to pass the time on a car trip while still being productive, you can make calls — provided that they don’t distract you from the road.

2. Eliminate Distractions

It’s not easy to shut out the world when you’re traveling – but you can try! If you are easily distracted when working from home or while in transit, there are a few different methods you can try to reign in the interruptions:

– If you like to work in silence, get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. While you may not be able to remove 100% of the noise around you, you’ll at least be able to ignore the sound of the person listening to a movie on their iPad without headphones on the plane. (There’s always someone!)

– If you prefer to work around people, and the quiet of your hotel room is deafening, then try a web app like “Coffitivity” to simulate the sound of a busy coffee shop.

– If you find yourself unable to concentrate because you’re thrown off of your usual schedule, try a Pomodoro timer to create structured work and break times.

3. Get Out of the House

 Unless you’re already used to remote work, you may find that your biggest productivity obstacle is your “office.” If you’re too comfortable, it can be easy to shirk your priorities in favor of a nap or the latest show on Netflix.

Make a list of nearby coffee shops, co-working spaces, and libraries, and plan to visit one if you have a hard time working from home. Don’t open your social media or check your phone: treat your “at work” time the same way you might if you were in an office.

If you’re staying with family, make sure you check in with them beforehand to negotiate a few good times to slip away and get some work done without being rude or missing planned festivities.

4. Get Your Work Done Early

This one may seem like a difficult task…but: plan ahead! While you can’t take unpaid time off, you can at least mitigate the potential feeling of overwhelm as you compete to hit your deadlines before everyone goes offline for the holidays.

Don’t wait until the last minute to follow tip number 1 (Make a Plan) – start now. Even if you don’t have major travel planned or you intend to take a “staycation,” the further ahead you plan, the easier it will be to address any last-minute “fire drills” that occur.

Do the big and important work first. If you can get yourself ahead of deadline, you will give yourself the gift of flexibility for handling other tasks – and by Thanksgiving, you’ll be feeling the attitude of (self) gratitude.

What productivity hacks have you tried? Let us know on LinkedIn!  



Regardless of the weather, as soon as Starbucks announces that its PSL is back, the season for seasonal work begins.

In other words: we’re well into the fall already, and if you’re looking for seasonal employment, it’s time to get your resume seen before it’s too late.

Why Take a Seasonal Job?

Seasonal work is, by its nature, temporary employment. So why should you take a seasonal job?

There are a number of good reasons:

– If you’re currently unemployed and looking for work, seasonal jobs can help you pay the bills while you apply and interview for long-term roles. You can even ask your seasonal employer for a reference for the long-term roles to which you’re applying!

– If you’re a student, seasonal work can help you earn while you study, without asking for a long-term commitment (especially if you don’t yet know how heavy your load will be next semester).

– If you’re trying to make a little extra money to pay for holiday presents or travel or get ahead on your savings or bills, seasonal employment can help you fill in the gaps.

– If you’re trying to change careers or want to learn new skills, seasonal employment offers you the opportunity to add something different to your resume.

– If you’re hoping to get a long-term role with a company offering seasonal work, a temporary role can help you get your foot in the door.

Seasonal work allows you to remain flexible while employed. If you’ve got a full-time job elsewhere, you can take on a part time seasonal job on the side; if you’re looking for work but not ready to commit to a company for the long haul, seasonal work helps you make rent while you prepare yourself for your next role.

Seasonal Work versus Gig Work

Why should you seek seasonal employment over joining the “gig economy?” The decision is ultimately up to you, but there are a number of factors that you should consider:

First of all: what’s the difference between a gig and a job?

Simply put, gig work is freelance work. And freelance work is project-based. You’re paid on contract (what is known as a 1099, for tax purposes), and you’re paid based on the number of tasks or projects you do. Freelance gigs can be anything from driving an Uber to selling your crafts on Etsy or walking dogs with Rover.

A job is more regular employment by a company, and you’re paid based on a W2. Instead of basing your pay on projects, companies base employment pay on time. An employee may have many tasks during the course of a work day, and you get paid for showing up instead of for how many projects you complete.

There are pros and cons to each, but they’re helpful to consider as you decide what kind of work is right for you this holiday season:

Pros of Gig Work

Gigs are even more flexible than seasonal employment. If you’re already employed and just looking to make some money on the side, it can be helpful to have a gig so you can decide when, where, and how much you want to work in your free time. With gig work, you’re in control – you decide which jobs to accept. (For example, as an Uber driver, you can decide when to log into the Uber app and when to turn it off and go home. As an Etsy shop owner, if you want to knit a sweater and list it for sale, that’s up to you.)

You can take as many gigs as you want and diversify your investment of time and resources. If you want to be a TaskRabbiter during the day, take on freelance writing gigs through Upwork in the evening, and charge Bird scooters at night, have at it! If you want the night off, that’s your choice, too. Some people are drawn to gig work for the promise it offers to those who “hustle”; others like it for the perceived flexibility and autonomy.

Cons of Gig Work

While the gig economy seems to offer untold flexibility and instant riches, there’s a lot more to the story. First of all, gig workers are independent contractors, which means that there’s no company paying your employment taxes. Taxes on 1099s are much higher than taxes on W2s, so it’s up to you to budget your earnings accordingly.

Gig work can be costly in other ways, too: in most cases, you will be required to furnish any equipment you need to carry out the job, from knitting needles to a car or bike to computers and phones to doggie waste bags. Most gig platforms don’t pay you back for any charges you incur while fulfilling your gig, so you may end up having to budget a large portion of your earnings to cover your expenses.

Gig work is also not assured work – tasks and projects can be inconsistent, as there is no employer promising you hours. You will have to go out and “hustle” for gigs, often competing with others who are trying to do the same. There’s also not much room for advancement, the way there is with employers; you may get new “badges” for engaging with an app, but there’s very rarely an opportunity for promotion, career growth, or flexing into full time.

Why You Might Consider Seasonal Work Instead

Seasonal work differs from gig work in that it involves a contract between you and an employer regarding your hours, your pay, and the start- and endpoint of your employment. If you’re hired to take on a seasonal role, your employer provides all of the equipment you need to do the job; all you need to do is show up. While your training may be abbreviated, there may still be chances for advancement into longer-term employment after your seasonal contract runs out.

Seasonal work offers a happy medium between the complete flexibility but insecurity of gig work and the more structured but stable long-term employment. No, you won’t get benefits, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be offered a long-term role once the season ends, but, if you’re looking for a role to help you generate some earnings this fall and winter, seasonal work is worth consideration.

Where to Look for Seasonal Work

What do you think of when you think of seasonal work? The first thing that may come to mind is retail – and that’s definitely a good place to start. However, there’s more to seasonal work than employment at the mall!

(That said, if you do apply for retail jobs, make sure you start soon: retail employers often start hiring at the end of summer/beginning of fall, because they want to be prepared for the busy shopping season well in advance of Black Friday.)

Here are few other ideas to spark inspiration for your job search:

  • – Manufacturing
  • – Warehousing and packaging
  • – Package delivery
  • – Customer service
  • – Food service
  • – Vacation/resort-related jobs (check out vacation spots near your area for ideas, like ski instructors, hotel staff, and more)
  • – Event-based jobs (‘tis the season for party planners, caterers, musicians, and mall Santas!)

You may also find companies hiring for professional roles from marketing to software development to help them finish projects before the new year.

How to Prepare for a Seasonal Job Interview

Prepare for a seasonal job interview as you would for a long-term role. Do your research on the company, dress professionally, and be on time.

Your interviewers may ask you about your long-term plans and your seasonal flexibility. Make sure you’re up-front with your answers! If you’re interested in growing with the company, don’t be shy about it – let them know that you understand that this is seasonal work, but ask if there are opportunities for working toward a non-seasonal role with the company afterward. (It’s helpful to understand what they’ll be looking for in employees as they make decisions about extending employment after the holidays; if you start the job armed with that knowledge in advance, you can make sure you’re making the right impression from day one.)

And be honest about your ability to take on the demands of seasonal work. If you have travel plans, an inflexible schedule, or other commitments, your potential employer needs to know so they can decide if you’re truly a good fit. Being open doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the job – it means that your potential employer will have enough information so that you don’t end up over-scheduled and they don’t find themselves unexpectedly understaffed.

Even if you don’t plan on seeking employment with the company after January or February, the interviewer may still want to gauge your commitment to this short-term role. Before you go into your interview, think about the reasons why you want this job beyond just a paycheck: the skills you want to learn, the excitement or fulfillment you get from doing this type of work, the chance to build a career in this industry, etc. What is true for you? Make sure you know how you’ll answer this question before you go in for the interview.

Ready to Look for Seasonal Work? 

So, you’ve made your pro and con list, and it seems like seasonal work is a good fit for you. You know what industry you want to search in or what roles might be a good fit for your skill set and schedule. You know what you’re looking for from this role, and you know how to answer the interview questions you’ll most likely be asked.

Now what?

If you’re not sure where to start your job search, why not take a look at Nelson’s job listings? There, you’ll find seasonal, temp, and long-term roles to help you take the next steps on your career journey.

With a strong economy, heightened consumer confidence, and unemployment at its lowest rate since 1969, your business may be booming. However, this is an employee-friendly job market: with unemployment so low, employees have much more freedom of choice when it comes to seeking new employment. Therefore, employers have to work much harder to retain the employees they already have — and to attract the ones they don’t.

While the cost of replacing an employee is well known, there are many more hidden costs that may be adding up in the background when you start filling vacant roles. Costs related to branding and social media, terminations, and on-boarding need to be added to your annual budget. To help you uncover both the direct and indirect costs of hiring and get started on your annual budgeting, we’ve put together a worksheet that you can use to kickstart conversations with your team.

You can download your complimentary copy of the Hidden Costs of Hiring worksheet here.

Preview of the Hidden Costs of Hiring Worksheet