Noe Murillo likes working at various types of gig or part-time jobs, ranging from a stocking clerk at a produce warehouse to a ticket-taker at entertainment events.
“I like doing different types of jobs, so you never get bored,” said the 30-year-old Phoenix resident. “I even did one job in L.A. while I was on vacation.”
Maria Smith appreciates the ability to earn money from short-term jobs before she settles back into full-time employment or goes back to school. “This is a side hustle,” said the 27-year-old Mesa, Arizona, resident, whose gigs have included brand ambassador at social events and preparation/set-up duties at Tempe’s Water Lantern Festival.
“I like getting out there and talking to people,” she said.
Those are two of several opinions offered by people explaining why they look for short-term jobs using new, on-demand phone app services that quickly and easily match local employers with applicants. As with full-time positions, many temporary jobs are understaffed at a time of low unemployment nationally.
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Available workers often are able to land jobs days or even a couple hours before shifts start with a few taps on their phones, and they’re paid nearly as quickly, often within a couple of days.
“Some of our people are opening the app (looking for jobs) up to 15 times a day,” said Sumir Meghani, the CEO and co-founder of Instawork.com, which operates in the Phoenix metro area, California and elsewhere. “You can pick up employment anytime you want.”
Fast and flexible
Americans are becoming more accustomed to immediate gratification and instant service in many ways – whether it’s same-day package deliveries, food orders, quick money transfers or hailing a ride. Why should finding a part-time job be much different?
“It’s a tight labor market, but there are so many people willing and able to work and companies willing to be flexible with scheduling,” said John Flaaten, head of business operations and customer services for Wonolo.com, another of the new job-placement services and the company for which both Murillo and Smith work. Wonolo operates in most states.
Some 45% of American workers say they earn income on the side, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. Otherwise-employed respondents said they worked an extra 12 hours each week on average, adding $1,122 in extra monthly pay.
“Though the economy is strong, many Americans are finding it necessary to work on the side in order to make ends meet,” said Amanda Dixon, a Bankrate analyst. The good news is that “finding a side gig has never been easier,” she said.
Granted, the new gig-finding app services typically don’t handle full-time, highly paid professional positions. For these, the usual job search tactics – interviews, cover letters, resumes and possibly help from a staffing agency or referral – still apply.
But for short-term positions that need to be filled fast, the programs provide an important connection that likely will become more common as the gig economy expands further.
“A lot of people don’t want 9-to-5 jobs, five days a week,” Meghani said.
App job hunting
Signing up as a prospective worker is as easy as downloading an app, said Flaaten. “We’re breaking down barriers of entry into the workplace,” he said.
People working with his company are subject to a background check but don’t need to provide a resume or fill out a lengthy application form, though they’re encouraged to complete a profile providing basic information about themselves, he said.
Many workers land better positions and sometimes even full-time jobs after they complete a shift or two, assuming they’re competent and enthusiastic. A typical path might be starting in a stocking job in the back room of a retail location, then moving up to cashier or another customer-facing position.
Employers pay the online staffing services, which then pay workers, typically within a couple of days. “We realize a lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck,” Flaaten said. Employers pay fees to the staffing services for help finding workers.
Wonolo, which recently entered the Phoenix market, has about 300,000 workers across the nation. In addition to people who are jobless, some are underemployed or just want to pick up extra money here and there, like retirees or teachers on vacation breaks.
Todd Vietzen is a manager in Phoenix for CSC ServiceWorks, a large commercial-laundry business. He likes Wonolo because the company screens the workers they send over, matching their abilities to an employer’s needs.
“I can look at (a worker’s profile) and do the interview mentally, straight from my desk,” said Vietzen. “It’s great for a boss who’s super busy.”
Many hospitality positions
Instawork.com focuses on jobs in the restaurant and lodging industries such as housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers and bartenders, with the app available in both English and Spanish. Arizona’s massive hospitality and tourism sectors count roughly 330,000 jobs.
Pay for the company’s gig jobs average about $110, or about $14 to $18 an hour for what might be a six- to eight-hour shift. “We’d like to think $110 on someone’s day off is meaningful,” Meghani said.
Wonolo said its workers last year earned $14.54 an hour on average.
Qwick.com is another online staffing service focused on the restaurant and hospitality industries. Another service, bluecrewjobs.com, recently listed open warehouse and mechanic gigs in the Phoenix area.
With some of these app services, job seekers and employers are encouraged to rate each other to help match future open shifts with the workers best qualified to fill them.
“A bad worker can ruin a Friday night dinner at a restaurant or even a wedding,” Meghani said. “In the hospitality industry, skill matters a lot.”
Joey Garcia, who uses Instawork, likes the flexibility and adventure of picking up gig jobs. He sees it as a way to supplement the income from his regular job as a restaurant manager, where he works about 60 hours a week.
Garcia, a 32-year-old Glendale resident, said he often works four to eight hours a week through Instawork to generate extra cash to buy a motorcycle.
With fresh shifts available for gigs ranging from bartender to chef, “It doesn’t feel like I’m working on my day off,” he said.
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