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The Difference: Freelance, Temp-to-Hire, and Direct Hire

When searching for a job, especially when working with recruiters, it can be challenging to differentiate between freelance, a temp-to-hire, and a direct-hire role. These types of hiring positions are entirely different from one another, so it is noteworthy to know what kind of role you are looking for when you are job hunting. Here is our breakdown to help you better understand the difference between freelance, temp-to-hire, and direct hire positions. 




A freelance position is a short-term hire position. This type of hire is common within agencies or smaller companies that are looking for short term work. A standard amount of time companies hire for these positions could be anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months. 


They are going to hire you to work on a specific project, and the amount of time they a lot you for the contract is dependent on how long they think the project will take. Whether you are looking for a shorter term or longer-term project, they will tell you how long it will be before you sign the contract. 


Freelance positions are always going to be hourly pay rather than salary pay, so make sure you do your homework. Based on your skillset and a range of what your annual salary would be, do the math to find your hourly rate. When you sign on for a freelance contract role, they will offer you their companies benefits for the duration of your time working on that project. 


A benefit of working temp positions is that many of these positions are remote, so you can work for an agency that is across the country. Another advantage of freelance jobs is that it is a great way to travel while you work. All you need is a computer and Wi-Fi, and you can work from virtually anywhere. 




A temp-to-hire position is a perfect mix between freelance and a direct hire position. When going into this type of role, you start as a freelancer. The company will give you a contract to work for an X amount of time for a specific project. The difference between freelance and a temp-to-hire job is that once the contract is over, or sometimes during the contract period, the company can bring you on full-time. 


It is not guaranteed that if you apply for a temp-to-hire role that you will automatically receive an offer for a full-time position. The company uses the freelance period as a way to evaluate your skillet, whether you can complete the project in a set amount of time, and how well you fit within the company culture. 


One of the benefits of having a temp-to-hire position is the ability to be considered for a full-time position, along with the opportunity to choose if it is where you want to work full-time. It does not only give the company a test period to see if you are a fit, but it allows you to do work for the company and decide if it is the right long-term fit for you. 


Direct hire


This type of position is likely the most familiar position. A direct-hire role is a company hiring you for their team full-time. The interviews for these positions will often be more vigorous and will have many steps. Some companies offer multiple rounds of interviews because if they are going to hire a candidate full-time, they want them to be a perfect fit. 


Recruiters will often turn to both active and passive candidates for direct-hire roles because although someone is currently in a full-time position, they may be open to new opportunities. It could take weeks for hiring managers and recruiters to sort through candidates before finding a match, along with the hiring process. A long search for candidates correlates to the direct-hire process to be the longest out of the three. 


Overall, a job is a job, especially during a pandemic, so do your best to not take it for granted, even if you’re currently working freelance. One of the best tips we can give you if you are actively searching for a job is to change your LinkedIn setting to “Looking for opportunities“.  Adjusting this setting will let LinkedIn Recruiters know you are open to new availabilities, and they will be more likely to reach out. Best of luck with your job search!