Permanent, temporary, fulfilling and dead-end jobs: collocations for work (2)

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by Liz Walter

My last post looked at collocations for starting and leaving jobs. This one will look at collocations that describe the experience of having a job.

If you have a full-time job or work full-time, you work the normal number of hours every week (usually around 40), but if you have a part-time job or work part-time, you work for fewer hours:

I’m looking for a full-time job in a language school.

He works part-time at the museum.

A permanent job/post has no end date, whereas a temporary job lasts for a limited period of time. In the UK, if you are on a zero-hours contract, you work when the employer needs you and do not have a guaranteed amount of work:

We have several permanent posts available from next month.

I’m looking for a temporary job before I start university.

All their workers are on zero-hours contracts.

Casual workers do short, temporary jobs when they are needed. We often talk about casual employment. In contrast, secure or steady jobs last a long time and the people who have them do not feel likely to be made unemployed:

They employ casual workers to pick the fruit.

Eventually, he settled down and got a steady job.

A fulfilling job or career makes you feel that you are doing something worthwhile. If you have a high-powered job or career, you have an important and interesting job, whereas a dead-end job is one with no prospect of being promoted:

I have found teaching a very fulfilling job.

She’s got a high-powered job in advertising.

Bob took a series of dead-end jobs.

Skilled jobs are ones that need qualifications or experience, while unskilled jobs do not. We also talk about skilled or unskilled workers.  In the UK, white-collar workers usually work in offices and blue-collar workers do physical jobs:

Most graduates go on to get skilled jobs.

They recruit a lot of unskilled workers from neighbouring countries.

Many white-collar workers are now working from home.

When people have a lot of work to do, they have a heavy workload and may work long hours. People in well-paid jobs/employment have high salaries/pay and people in badly-paid jobs/employment have low salaries/pay:

We were working long hours in a meat factory.

The car plant brought many well-paid jobs to the area.

I can’t survive on such a low salary.

I hope you find these collocations useful, and that learning English will help you get your dream job!

15 thoughts on “Permanent, temporary, fulfilling and dead-end jobs: collocations for work (2)

  1. Thanks! I wonder why it is “zero-hours contract” and not “zero-hour contract”, as opposed the usual formation of this type of adjectives such as in “five-year term”, “three-storey building”, etc.

  2. Uthman

    Highly appreciated!

    This and others posts on collocation are very useful, and are an effective way of teaching English, especially to non-native speakers.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Bensaada Amina

    Thank you so much for this article! I have been enjoying this series so far. I am surprised “Freelance” wasn’t mentionned in this one but anyhow I found the article very helpful and concise. This is beside the point but I’d like to suggest Cambridge to create a entirely separate column for the blog. This way, It’d be easier to access and navigate.

  4. Steve Wehrle

    Over the past number of years I have been worried that most people where I am use “role” when they mean “job”. They will say “I have a new role”, or they will ask which role I had before the one I currently have. Others will tell me of a new “role” they have seen advertised in the media.

    Is this an American thing?

    1. Liz Walter

      That’s a very interesting question! I’ve just had a look around several dictionaries, including American ones, and I can’t find it attested anywhere with the precise meaning of ‘job’, though the examples you give sound familiar to me too. If it was American to begin with, I think it’s fairly mainstream in the UK now, and I share your unease – there’s something rather depersonalizing about emphasizing a person’s function, as though they and the job are synonymous.

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