The Employers Guide to Finding & Hiring Temp Workers

Finding temporary workers to fill your business needs is tricky. But with full-time hiring an increasingly harder task in the current labor market, many businesses are finding that temp and flexible workers are needed to either bridge the gap to full-time hires or to supplement an existing team.

However, the routes to bringing on temp workers are often quite different from hiring full-time workers.

This guide will lay out all of your options for finding and hiring temporary employees, along with step-by-step instructions if this is your first time.

What staffing services and resources can you use to find temporary employees?

First, let’s have a look at the available resources and platforms you can go to for finding temp workers.

Traditionally, businesses have relied on staffing agencies (also known as “temp agencies”) to find flexible temp workers to fill open roles.

These staffing agencies, also known as temp agencies or employment agencies, specialize in connecting employers with qualified candidates for temporary, contract, or project-based positions. Niche staffing agencies can even cater to specific industries, such as IT, healthcare, or finance, ensuring that employers find candidates with the right expertise for their temporary positions.

Beyond staffing agencies, employers today can leverage various technologies and online platforms to find and hire temporary employees.

  • Online work platforms, such as Instawork, make it easy for businesses to connect with skilled, pre-screened hourly workers in hospitality and general labor. More and more workers are ditching traditional temp agencies for app-based platforms, thanks to their user-friendly experience, diverse job options, and flexible schedules.
  • Freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are great for project-based needs, particularly for creative or marketing needs.
  • Job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor allow employers to post temporary job listings and attract potential candidates. 
  • Social media platforms like LinkedIn can also be used to search for candidates, post job openings, and network with potential hires.

Online marketplaces vs. temp agencies

Online marketplaces and temp agencies both offer valuable services for employers looking to find and hire temporary workers, but they differ in several key aspects. 

Online marketplaces like Instawork, Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr connect employers with freelancers and contractors worldwide. Employers can post project or shift-based work and communicate with potential applicants.

These platforms offer access to a vast, diverse talent pool across many locations. For example, Instawork has over 4 million workers in the US and Canada, serving over 40 markets.

Unlike traditional temp agencies, these platforms use technology to improve results for businesses. Apps like Instawork use rating systems, skills tests, and machine learning to match companies with the best workers, maintaining fill rates above 90%. Online booking tools also reduce admin work and provide visibility into shift fill rates.

Mobile apps make it easy for workers to accept shifts and simplify day-to-day admin for businesses. Like temp agencies, workers are usually 1099 employees, meaning businesses pay the marketplace, not the worker directly.

Temp staffing agencies are specialized firms with a database of candidates for temporary or project-based positions. They handle recruitment, including screening, interviewing, and reference checks, saving employers time. Like online marketplaces, they manage payroll and taxes, reducing admin work for employers.

Temp agencies usually have a smaller worker pool but may offer more specialized or skilled workers. They manage worker orders through traditional methods like email, fax, or phone, unlike online booking tools used by online marketplaces.

In the end, choosing between online marketplaces and temp agencies depends on the employer's needs and preferences, as well as the type of temporary workers they want to hire. Online marketplaces are great for specialized skills, remote workers, or cost-effective solutions, while temp agencies suit employers who prefer a hands-off hiring approach and appreciate the extra support services provided by the agency.


 Online Marketplaces

 Temp Agencies

 Access to Talent

 Largest possible talent pool due to scale and global reach  

 Talent pool dependent on agency size and tenure. Tends to be concentrated in single or small number of markets  


 Competitive rates, pay per project or based on markup on hourly rate  

 Rates may include agency fees  


 Offer workers and businesses one-off, seasonal, or long-term staffing solutions  

 Often used for longer-term engagements with minimum staffing levels  

 Employer Involvement

 Direct communication or direct matching based on needs  

 Minimal involvement in the hiring process  

 Administrative Tasks

 Platform handles project tracking, worker assignment payment, and taxes  

 Agency often handles assignment, payroll, and taxes  

 Screening Process

 Platform usually handles upfront vetting, but screening sometimes falls to employer  

 Agency often handles vetting, background checks, and in some cases interviews  

 Quality Assurance

 Varies depending on the platform  

 Agency reputation may impact candidate quality  

 Time Commitment

 Depending on the platform, employers may spend more time on the hiring process.  

Flexible work platforms often do save time overall due to automated matching technology.  

 Relatively low, as agencies often manage much of the screening and selection process.  

 Geographic Reach

 Global, often with remote work options  

 Typically tied to one or a small number of markets  

 Legal Compliance

 Varies by platform but employer can be liable for legal compliance  

 Agency ensures compliance with labor laws  

How to find and hire temporary employees, step-by-step

Step #1: Identify the skills required for your temp employee

Before starting the hiring process, it's crucial to identify the specific skills and qualifications required for the temporary position. Consider the tasks the employee will be responsible for and the level of expertise needed to complete them effectively. Make a list of essential and desirable skills, as well as any certifications or educational requirements that may be relevant to the role.

Step #2: Determine the engagement duration

Establish the duration of the temporary assignment, whether it's a few weeks, months, or a project-based timeframe. This information will help you set expectations with potential candidates and ensure that they are available for the entire duration of the assignment.

You may want to consider making it a temp-to-hire role if you are interested in potentially hiring a worker on after their temp engagement is complete.

Step #3: Locate the talent pool using an online marketplace, a staffing agency, or other talent sourcing techniques

As we broke down in the earlier sections of this guide, there are many solutions for finding a temp worker, but the best one for you will depend on the type of worker needed, your geographic location, budget, and degree of control over worker selection you’d like to have.

Step #4: Write a descriptive and compelling job description

Craft a clear and compelling job description that outlines the responsibilities, required skills, and qualifications for the temporary position. Be sure to include information about the duration of the assignment, the work schedule, and any specific project details. A well-written job description will help attract the right candidates and make the screening process more efficient.

Step #5: Narrow down an array of potential candidates from the talent pool

Review the applications and profiles of potential candidates, keeping in mind the skills and qualifications you identified in Step #1. If you decided on a temp staffing solution that allows for some degree of selection, create a shortlist of candidates who meet your criteria and have the necessary experience to excel in the temporary role.

Step #6: Screen and vet your top candidates

Conduct interviews with your shortlisted candidates to assess their skills, experience, and fit for the role. This can be done through phone or video interviews, or in-person if feasible. You may also want to conduct reference checks or request work samples to further evaluate their qualifications and past performance.

Step #7: Identify your top candidate and make a selection

After completing the screening and vetting process, identify the top candidate who best meets your requirements and aligns with your organization's values. Prepare a formal offer letter that outlines the terms of the temporary assignment, including the start date, duration, compensation, and any applicable benefits.

In some cases, you may need to be prepared to negotiate and ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities associated with the role. Once the candidate accepts the offer, begin the onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition and successful integration into your team.

Additional considerations when hiring a temp employee

When hiring temporary workers, employers must ensure that they comply with all legal requirements and follow best practices to protect both their organization and the temporary employees. One of the key considerations is the preparation and execution of legal documents, such as employment contracts or agreements.

These documents should clearly outline the terms and conditions of the temporary assignment, including the duration, compensation, work schedule, and any applicable benefits. It is essential to have a written agreement in place to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes that may arise during the course of the temporary employment.

Background checks are another important aspect of the hiring process for temporary workers. Employers should conduct thorough background checks to verify the candidate's identity, work history, and any relevant certifications or qualifications. This may include checking references, reviewing work samples, or conducting criminal record checks, depending on the nature of the role and the level of risk associated with the position. Background checks help ensure that the temporary worker is trustworthy, reliable, and capable of performing the tasks required for the role.

Employment eligibility is another crucial consideration when hiring temporary workers, as employers must ensure that candidates are legally authorized to work in the country where the job is located. In the United States, for example, employers are required to verify the employment eligibility of all workers, including temporary employees, through the Form I-9 process. This involves reviewing and verifying the candidate's identification and work authorization documents, such as a passport, Social Security card, or work visa. Failure to comply with employment eligibility requirements can result in significant penalties and fines for the employer, so it is essential to be diligent in this aspect of the hiring process.


What are the pros & cons of hiring temp employees?

Pros of hiring temp employees include:

  • The ability to keep flexibility in your staffing levels and arrangements
  • Potential cost savings over a full-time employee
  • The ability to address short-term needs or manage fluctuating workloads, quickly fill gaps, cover employee absences, or handle seasonal increases in demand
  • Reduce the financial burden associated with full-time employees, such as benefits and long-term commitments

Cons of hiring temporary employees:

  • Potential disruptions to team dynamics
  • Extra time and resources required for training and onboarding
  • The possibility of lower employee engagement or commitment due to the temporary nature of the role

What mistake do employers make when hiring temp employees?

A common mistake employers make when hiring temp employees is not investing enough time and effort in the onboarding process. Make sure that you have a designated manager or employee ready to greet temporary workers on their first day and get them set up with necessary access, technology, or paperwork.

In addition, having a detailed training program for a temp worker can help make sure they’re in the best position to succeed. Not having proper instructions, documentation, or a standardized orientation leaves room for confusion and inefficient work. Better preparation and instructions helps make the engagement a success for everyone.

What does temp-to-hire mean?

Temp-to-hire refers to a staffing arrangement where an employee is initially hired on a temporary basis, with the potential for the position to transition into a permanent role after a predetermined evaluation period.

This arrangement allows employers to assess the employee's performance, skills, and fit within the organization before making a long-term commitment. It also provides the temporary employee with an opportunity to gain experience and demonstrate their value to the company, as well as see whether the employer is a good fit for them long-term.


By following the step-by-step guide to finding and hiring temporary employees, employers can streamline the hiring process and secure the right talent to support their organization's goals. The article also highlights the importance of considering legal documents, background checks, and employment eligibility when hiring temporary workers, ensuring that employers comply with all legal requirements and protect both their organization and the temporary employees.

As the demand for temporary workers continues to grow, employers must understand the nuances of hiring and managing this unique segment of the workforce in order to effectively navigate the challenges associated with temporary employment and maximize the benefits of this flexible staffing solution.

Keeping these tips in mind will enable organizations to adapt to changing market conditions, maintain operational efficiency, and drive business success.