What’s the difference between temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire jobs?

If you’re looking for work and perusing the South Shore Staffing jobs board, you’ve already noticed that we focus on engineering, accounting, and administrative positions. But if you aren’t familiar with us or with staffing agencies in general, you may be wondering about the types of opportunities you see. What’s the difference between a temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire job and what does this mean for your job search?

If you want a full-time job, should you accept temporary work? Do all direct-hire jobs offer benefits?

We are breaking down the difference here so you can decide what’s the best scenario for your situation.

Temporary Opportunities

Temporary positions can be long-term or short-term in duration. Companies look to hire temporary employees to help with anything from a three-day mailing project or sick leave for their receptionist, to longer-term maternity leave coverage, or simply just an extra set of hands in the office during their busy season.

In most scenarios, there’s a specific end date planned based on how long a company needs temp help but it’s not usually set in stone. For example, one company may need a temporary Executive Assistant for four months to cover maternity leave but the new mom may decide she needs to be out longer, and the position could be extended to six months. Or alternatively, a CPA firm needs seasonal tax-prep assistance but, after the tax deadline, there will be no more work so that role will have a specific end date.

Temporary jobs do not offer benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, 401K, but per Massachusetts laws, all temporary employees earn sick time. At South Shore Staffing, we thank our long-term temporary employees by offering paid holidays and even a bonus once they’ve worked a certain amount of hours.

If you are hired for a temporary position, you are an employee of South Shore Staffing working for our client. You will complete all required paperwork (I-9 and W-4 forms, etc.) and be paid hourly and on a weekly basis. We then bill our client for your hours worked.

So why would someone be interested in temporary work? Depending on your situation, temporary employment offers so many excellent benefits! Maybe you’re retired and like to stay busy helping out here and there when it’s convenient for you. Or maybe all of your kids are in school and you are ready to ease back into the workforce with some short-term work to get back into the swing of things.

Temporary work is also great for people in between jobs who want to keep their skills sharp and continue to network. It can also be a great opportunity for recent college grads to start building their resume, growing their network, and gaining new skills.

If you see your “dream job” listed, don’t be put off if it’s listed as “only” a temporary position! As we’ll discuss next, many of our temp-to-hire scenarios occur more out of happenstance than by design. Meaning, we often see companies fall in love with a temporary employee and end up finding a permanent home for them because they didn’t want to see them go. Stay open-minded because you never know what may happen!

Temp-to-Hire Jobs

In a temp-to-hire scenario, the ultimate goal is for the temporary worker to be hired permanently by the company. The “temporary” portion is a trial period for both the company and the employee to ensure a good fit before a permanent offer of employment.

Companies take the temp-to-hire route for many reasons. They may have found their last A/R Coordinator on their own but the candidate misrepresented their level of ERP knowledge, so this time around the manager wants to be sure someone has the skills needed to succeed. Or a company’s office could be loud and boisterous with an office dog and lots of visitors which didn’t work well for the last Admin Assistant who sat at the front desk and needed more quiet time to concentrate. Now they want to make sure someone can thrive in their office culture so they take the temp-to-hire route, and a candidate can try it out before they’re hired permanently.

Similar to a standard temporary hiring scenario, temp-to-hire employees work for South Shore Staffing at our client company. During this period there are no benefits offered (aside from earned sick time) but you’ll most likely transition to the company’s benefits’ package (if offered/available) once formally hired as a permanent employee.

Direct Hire Positions

At South Shore Staffing, we love staffing but we’ll be honest: hiring is hard! This is often why managers come to us to help fill a permanent position at their company. In the same way we act as the intermediary between candidates and hiring managers with temporary and temp-to-hire positions, for direct hire scenarios, we facilitate the interview and offer process. However, once you are hired by the company, our job is done and we are out of the picture wishing you and the company the best of luck.

Direct hire jobs typically offer an annual salary and benefit package, but every company is different. We pride ourselves on being very thorough with our clients so that we are providing all necessary information to job seekers. If you’re working in a permanent position now with benefits, you’ll certainly want to know if the opportunity you’re considering will offer them too.


Regardless of whether you are looking for temporary, temp-to-hire or direct hire work, the benefit of partnering with a staffing agency for your job search is that we have positions that aren’t public, and we communicate directly with decision makers. Essentially we are your human cover letter with direct access to real hiring managers at local companies who are looking for people like you!

So send us your resume today and let’s see how we can help your job search!