The Best Ways to Find On-Demand Jobs

Uber urges travelers to compare its fares with taxi services.
Oli Scarff / Staff / Getty Images

Are you interested in working on a schedule of your choosing, doing work you enjoy? On-demand jobs are great options for individuals seeking a flexible work schedule and a position that allows you to live virtually anywhere. Gig work also offers the opportunity to earn extra money doing side jobs on top of full-time employment.

When you’re working on demand, you decide when you’re available for work and, for most positions, you don’t need to commit to a specific work schedule. 

App-Based Work Options

With most on-demand positions, you’ll schedule work, claim jobs, and get paid via an app you can use on your smartphone. Once you’re signed up and approved, it’s quick and easy to get gigs for when and where you want to work.

On-demand companies include Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, and Postmates, and many on-demand contractors juggle work for a number of these companies. These companies hire gig workers for flexibility, saving money, and because it makes sense for that specific industry. In most cases, you’ll be hired as an independent contractor rather than as an employee, and you’ll be responsible for paying taxes on your income.

What You Need to Get Hired 

You will need a smartphone (iPhone or Android) because most on-demand gigs are with app-based companies. A driver’s license, reliable vehicle, and insurance are key qualifications for jobs involving transport and delivery, whether you're delivering food or taxiing people around. However, if you're a dog walker or want to specialize in providing home services through a company like Takl, you don’t necessarily need to have a driver’s license.

On-demand jobs differ from traditional ones in that, in most cases, workers operate as independent contractors rather than as employees. This difference means you won't need to fill out any initial tax forms like a W-4, and your earnings will be reported on a 1099 form rather than a W-2. 

Some states, like California for example, are enacting legislation to regulate gig economy workers and consider them employees instead of contractors. Check with your state labor office for the guidelines in your location.

There are, however, some similarities regardless of how you are hired, like the need to provide identification, have a permanent address, and pass a background check. You should also be aware that different credentials may be required depending on the company and type of work. 

How You Get Notified About Jobs

Getting notified about jobs is a simple process. For most on-demand work, you simply download an app on your mobile device and "clock in" whenever you want. 

For example, online Uber drivers receive alerts as soon as customers submit a ride request. The location on a GPS is provided, and the driver can either accept or decline the request. This notification system is standard among on-demand companies.

One of the greatest perks is having the freedom to either accept or decline opportunities, which gives workers considerable flexibility.

How and When You Get Paid

Another perk of being an on-demand contractor is the convenient payment schedule. Workers are typically paid either instantly, shortly after each completed job, or once a week.

Each company is different in terms of the percentage they take out of earnings. Be sure to research this when you sign up, as every company operates differently. Payment can be accepted in various ways, including via a debit or prepaid card, PayPal, or direct deposit into your checking account. 

Types of On-Demand Jobs

The landscape of on-demand work is vast, making it an excellent option for people with specific interests and/or skill sets. If you have a knack for fixing things, maintenance, or cleaning work, then you might want to consider companies like Takl or Maidsapp. Driving work is a viable option for workers seeking a more sedentary position. Social individuals who enjoy interacting with others often gravitate toward Uber and Lyft. 

Whether you want to explore working remotely as a freelance writer, marketer, or virtual assistant, many opportunities exist for on-demand work through websites like Upwork. Wherever your interests lie, there is a job out there for you.

The Best Ways to Find Jobs

After you have narrowed down the types of on-demand gigs you're interested in, you can then start searching online. You'll find more opportunities in urban areas, though if your goal is to work from home, there are plenty of on-demand remote jobs in that category.

You can find gig jobs by searching job sites, searching directly on Google, or using websites that focus on gigs. If you know a company you’d like to work for, visit its website or download the app to get started. Review the list below for some of the best apps to use to get hired.

Use keywords like “gig” “gigs” “gig jobs” and your location to generate a list of on-demand jobs near you.

Once you have found the companies that offer what you're looking for, simply apply. How long it takes to get hired can vary, depending on whether the company needs to carry out a background check. If this is the case, it can often take longer to get hired. However, once your application has been approved, you can start work immediately.

16 Apps for On-Demand Work

Most on-demand jobs are app-based. Some apps cover a broad variety of gigs, while others focus on one specific role like driving, cleaning, or caregiving. 

In your search for gigs that fit your interests and your schedule, it’s worth taking a look at the following apps:

Takl connects you to all kinds of work, from installing electronics to auto repair/maintenance to yardwork, and a lot more. When you sign up, you'll need to fill out your profile with relevant skills and categories. Simply open the app when you're available to work, and customers can then select you to do the job.

Instacart provides grocery delivery from local stores. You can apply online to become a shopper. Once you’re approved, you’ll be able to receive orders through an app on your smartphone, then shop and deliver groceries to the customer’s location.

Maidsapp is a cleaning services app. Simple and easy to use for both clients and cleaners, the site allows customers to get a same-day cleaning. Clients can choose which type of service they require and indicate the time of day they need the job done.

All you need to do is sign up, select “I am a maid,” and begin browsing for same-day jobs.

You probably already know what Lyft is, but you may not be familiar with how easy it is to drive for Lyft. Your vehicle must meet certain requirements (usually less than 10 years old with a decent exterior) and be properly registered and insured. If you don’t have a vehicle that passes such requirements, you can sign up for ExpressDrive to get hooked up with a rental. Simply turn on your app when you’re available to accept rides and start making money.

Uber (& UberEats)
Uber provides transportation, and UberEats is a food delivery service. You can sign up online to drive for either of these. Uber also has its own version of Lyft’s rental option if you need a vehicle.

Uber Works
Uber Works is strictly a mobile device app. You’ll need to download Uber Works for Apple devices or download the app for Android to get started. Instead of ridesharing, Uber Works offers almost any kind of job you can imagine, from simple odd-job tasks to musical gigs to cooking jobs.

Wonolo offers same-day work opportunities relating to warehouses, deliveries, events, merchandising, clerical work, and more. After signing up, simply open the app and accept the job you’re interested in.

Amazon Flex
In order to provide two-day or same-day shipping to Prime members, Amazon has a fleet of their own delivery drivers. But they also call upon on-demand delivery drivers as well. Signing up is free, and you'll quickly be able to find out whether there is a need for delivery drivers in your area.

For those that have driven for Uber and handled an UberEats order, DoorDash works in much the same way. You can accept available deliveries as they show up on the app and earn after completing each food order.

Drizly is an alcohol delivery app that works a little differently from the other apps. On-demand delivery drivers work directly with local liquor stores partnering with Drizly. Simply check your area here and sign up at your nearest liquor store.

Shipt is great for those who like to shop and deliver purchases. As customers place orders, it is your job to visit the store, find the right item, and then deliver that item to the person that placed the order. Shipt shoppers must apply for approval, and then they can download the app and start shopping and delivering right away.

If you are physically in decent shape and enjoy being on your feet, then becoming a Bellhop could be an option for you. Simply complete the application and then download the app; you'll then get the opportunity to help customers pack and move home. There is no need to own a truck or large vehicle. All you have to do is enter your availability, and the app will tell you where your skills are needed.

Jitjatjo Flex
Do you enjoy restaurant and catering work? If so, you may enjoy Jitjatjo Flex. The onboarding process for this app is a bit more involved (and includes an interview). However, once you pass the onboarding process, all you do is select your availability on the app, wait to get hired, and start working.

Helpr is an app for sitters and nannies. Sitters need to have at least two years' experience caring for children in some capacity, as well as references. Like most app gigs that involve working with people, you'll also have to pass a background check. However, there are no interviews with hiring families. Simply browse the available jobs (posted at least three days in advance) and claim the job you want.

Upwork is the largest freelance platform for computer-based jobs. Freelancers can search for and apply to job opportunities that interest them. The hiring process differs from many on-demand jobs in that you have an interview and will most likely have a more direct relationship with your client(s). Some opportunities are one-off projects with a quick turnaround, while others are longer-term. 

Bluecrew is different from typical gig job apps. With Bluecrew, you’ll be hired as a W-2 employee for short- or longer-term positions. Bluecrew will be your official employer, even though you’re working for another company. It’s easy to sign up, and once you’ve done so, you can choose from any jobs and shifts you fancy via the app.

Key Takeaways

Get the Flexibility You Need. On-demand gigs give you the flexibility to work when and where you would like.

Check the Requirements. Hiring requirements vary, so check the details for what you need to apply.

Mix and Match. Many gig contractors work at a variety of on-demand jobs. Try a few to see which works best for you.