What Is Employment and How Does It Work?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finding employment is an essential part of a candidate's career path. It can be useful to pursue different career opportunities so that you can expand your skills, grow your experience and achieve career advancement. Understanding what employment is may help you determine the type of career that may be an excellent choice for you. In this article, we discuss what employment is, how it works and the types and requirements of employment.

What is employment?

Employment is a contract that involves an employer agreeing to pay an employee monetary compensation for labour. Usually, employers instruct employees on their specific work duties and employment requirements. Before starting in a position, both parties must agree on the terms and compensation for employment, along with specific details about their work conditions. Candidates may negotiate different parts of their employment contract, which involves the following:

  • Salary: Employees can negotiate their salary, which is the rate of compensation that they earn from their company. They may choose their salary depending on their education level, experience and the position's duties.

  • Hours: Employers may allow candidates to provide their preferred working hours, like if they prefer to work in the morning, afternoon or evening.

  • Benefits: A position's benefits can vary depending on a position's employment type, like if an employee works full-time or part-time. Staff may negotiate health care benefits, paid time off and retirement plans.

  • Work environment: Staff members may discuss their work environment preferences with their employer to create an environment that best suits them. For example, if an employee prefers to have a quiet working environment, then they may request to work in an office independently.

Related: What Is a Salary Slip? Importance, Components and Format

Different types of employment

Here are some examples of different types of employment:


Part-time employment is when an employer hires you to work less than full-time, which often equates to 10 to 30 hours per week. Often, part-time staff receive payment for each hour they work, rather than earning an annual salary. This is because the work schedule for part-time employees may change frequently depending on the employer's staffing needs, and it may be easier for employers to track compensation using hourly pay rather than yearly salary. It is not common for part-time employees to receive health care benefits.

Part-time staff may work shorter shifts, which can be four to eight hours long, or they may work longer shifts, which may be eight to 12 hours.

Related: What Are Career Opportunities and How to Choose the Right One


Full-time employment typically involves a yearly salary and benefits. Typically, full-time employees work more than 40 hours per week, and they may receive overtime work, depending on their company's overtime policy. Employers may schedule full-time staff to work eight to 12-hour shifts. These staff members may receive full health care benefits and paid time off, along with an annual salary. They may be more likely to have a set schedule that they follow each week, since employers may have an easier time tracking their annual compensation by following a regular schedule.


Temporary employment involves employers hiring employees for a brief period. Though the specific duration of employment varies depending on the company's needs, most temporary positions last three to six months. Many temporary staff receive hourly compensation, since they may only be on a company's payroll for a short time. Employers may hire candidates for temporary employment if they are expanding their inventory briefly, or if they have a temporary shortage in staff. For example, if a staff member goes on maternity leave, the company may hire a temporary employee to fill in while the staff member is out.


Employers may hire seasonal employees to work for a specific season, like a holiday season or a seasonal event. They typically pay seasonal employees an hourly wage, and they may hire them for one to three months, depending on the duration of the season. For example, if a clothing store hires seasonal employees for the summer, they may employ them for three months. Seasonal staff do not typically receive health care benefits or paid time off.

How does employment work?

Here are the different stages of employment:

Job posting

Employers typically post a job opening that includes details about the position's duties and requirements. They may post the opening on a job board, professional networking website or on their company website. Job seekers often look through job openings to find a position that they may have an interest in pursuing, then they can review the role's requirements to see if they are a good fit.

Related: How To Write a Job Application Letter: Sample Included

Application process

Typically, candidates complete an application process in order to secure a position within a company. It is common for employers to require application materials that include a resume, cover letter and letters of recommendation or a portfolio. A resume and cover letter contain information about a candidate's previous work experience, education and skills that make them a qualified candidate for the position. Upon submitting an application, employers can review it and determine if the candidate is a good match for the role.

The final stage of the application process often involves a job interview where employers can meet with candidates to better determine if they are fit for the job. They may ask about the applicant's background or focus on industry-related questions or questions that are specific to the position.

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice


Upon securing a position, employers often put candidates through an onboarding process that teaches them about company procedures, industry-related skills and protocols or techniques. The length of onboarding processes varies depending on the amount of experience a candidate has and the complexity of a position, though many onboarding processes last four to eight weeks. For example, if a software company hires a new employee, they may put that employee through five weeks of training to teach them about different software systems, software development protocols and documentation techniques.

Related: Types of Workplace Training: Definitions and Examples


Once a candidate finishes onboarding, they may work in their position using the techniques and protocols they learned in training. After earning sufficient experience within a position, they may try to earn career advancement, which is an employment opportunity that may offer employees a promotion or the chance to earn a higher wage. For example, once a cashier gains extensive experience working in a grocery store, they may apply for a store manager position, which may offer a higher wage and additional benefits.

Employees may apply to the company they work at currently to achieve career advancement, which is known as internal promotion, or they may apply to other companies to pursue an advanced position.

Employment requirements

Specific employment requirements vary depending on a job's duties. For example, employers may set different requirements for an entry-level position and a management position. Here are some requirements that employers may have for different positions:


Many employers have minimum educational requirements that candidates may need in order to secure employment in a position. Depending on the position, candidates may need to have a 10+2, bachelor's degree or master's degree. Employers may require a degree within a specialised field. For example, a candidate may need a bachelor's degree in biology in order to pursue employment as a marine biologist.

Related: 20 High-Paying Careers With an MBA (With Duties and Salary)


It is necessary for certain candidates to have certifications, depending on a position's requirements. Many industries require professionals to have certifications from accredited institutions, which may mean that employers require candidates to have proof of certification before receiving employment benefits. For example, employers may require nurses to have certification in the health care field in order to obtain a nursing job.

Related: What Are Professional Certificates? (With 10 Certificates)


Though experience may not be necessary in order to find employment, employers may be more likely to hire you if you have extensive experience within a specific field. By gaining experience, you can further enhance your skills and familiarise yourself with industry techniques, standards and protocols. For example, employers may be more likely to hire a dental assistant that has experience in dentistry, since they may better understand safety protocols and dental procedures.

If you have less experience in the field that you are seeking employment in, try finding a position as an intern or volunteer to grow your familiarity in the field by developing your skills.

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