Whether you are feeling a bit stuck in a rut at work and can see no good career progression opportunities ahead for you, or you know for sure that your job is going nowhere, should you consider signing up with a staffing agency to get a bit of a boost?
The short answer — it depends. The good news is that staffing agencies today no longer specialize in low-skilled, temp work. They can connect you with truly amazing employers, and help find high-paid, full-time work. On the other hand, there are certain drawbacks to engaging with one too.
But let’s talk one thing at a time and start with the basics.
What is a Staffing Agency?
A staffing agency (also going by the name of recruiting or workforce firms/solutions) is an organization that match-makes candidates with the right employers.
Today some 25,000 staffing and recruiting companies operate in the US, according to the stats from the American Staffing Association. Among them, 56% of companies specialize in temporary or contract staffing.
- A temp agency can help you land a full-time contract/weekend job or part-time work. In fact, six in ten staffing employees get involved with such companies to fill in the gap between jobs or find a full-time position, per the American Staffing Association.
- Specialized recruiting agencies, in turn, help job searchers find a new full-time job in their specific domain. For example, 40% of staffing employees get placed in higher-skilled positions in the Industrial, Professional-Managerial, Engineering, IT, Scientific, and Healthcare domains.
How Does a Staffing Agency Work?
In essence, a staffing agency has an active pool of employers who are after candidates with specific technical skills or core competencies and a pool of job seekers that the agency folks tap into to suggest to the employer.
Here’s how the entire process looks in the background:
- Business contacts the staffing agency: During the first meeting, they provide an overview of their capacity requirements — number of people they need, work period (if that’s contract work), minimal qualification requirements, extra qualification requirements, a salary range they are ready to pay.
- The agency starts the search: Recruiters working with the agency compose job descriptions and start sourcing relevant candidates that match the employee profile. Typically, they’ll first reach out to candidates, already in their database, before proceeding to advertise the job publicly (on job boards, social media, etc).
- Candidates get invited to a job interview(s): First, you’ll first get invited to a job interview with the agency personnel. If that goes well, your resume and other supporting docs will be passed over to the actual employer for assessment. Depending on the role you are after, you may be either hired immediately or invited for the second interview with the company and its team.
- The agency manages your hiring process. A staffing agency will handle most of the paperwork and admin procedures associated with hiring. They’ll collect the required docs from you, prepare your work contract, and set you up on the employer’s payroll or compensate you directly (if you are hired for a temp position). Also, they’ll proceed to charge the employer a fixed or monthly fee for their recruiting services.
Also, before adding you to an active pool of candidates, the staffing agency will schedule a preliminary interview with you. Come to it in your best job search armor! That is:
- Have an up-to-date printed version of your resume. You can give it that extra oomph by wrapping it into one of our amazing free resume templates!
- Put together a list of your career objectives that you’ll discuss with the agency to give them a better sense of your job search preferences.
- Come professionally dressed. Business casual attire will be appropriate. Also, make sure you are well-groomed and otherwise looking presentable.
Lastly, don’t sweat too much over the agency interview. The local staff is on your side! Their goal is to:
- Help identify the most in-demand skills that you have
- Assess your overall work experience
- Gauge your workplace preferences and work style
- Understand your career goals and objectives
- Identify possible weakness areas (e.g. resume gaps) and help mellow them out
If you have all that answers ready, you are golden and should expect a good stream of relevant job opportunities heading your way.
The Benefits of Using a Staffing Agency for Your Job Search
OK, so a staffing agency can help you get a job — that’s an obvious pro of working with them. But there are several other great benefits you gain by engaging with an agency.
Access to Flexible Career Opportunities
According to the American Staffing Association, agencies supply some 16 million temporary and contract employees per year. Read: they have loads of part-time, contract, and otherwise flexible work gigs.
A lot of forward-thinking recruitment agencies have realized that the face of the modern workplace is rapidly changing and they are ready to accommodate that. Some firms now specialize in gig work. Others — have access to an array of remote jobs.
In either case, this means that if you want to return to work after taking a career break or, on the contrary, switch to flexible work for personal reasons, you can now find high-quality jobs via an agency too.
A lot of part-time work in years gone past was also created to fulfill more low-level tasks where the staff member was never really challenged or even valued or appreciated for their contribution. Many parents returning to work after a break and looking for part-time hours were expected to take lower grade jobs or suffer a cut to their salary as a consequence.
Luckily, things have changed a lot these days and most large employers are taking on highly qualified and experienced staff in responsible roles that now offer more flexibility to accommodate the needs of their family commitments. This can include job-share positions and roles that allow you to work part of the week from home so you get a better work/life balance.
Help with Finding More Suitable Role
Another pro of using a recruitment agency is that many will help you to find and apply for a more suitable role. Modern recruitment agencies go a step further by supporting you throughout the whole job search process to providing assistance during onboarding.
Based on your replies during the preliminary interview, the agency specialist can also help you direct towards alternative roles that you may not have previously considered. In addition, skilled staff can help you orchestrate your career change and chart a possible path for progression in the new industry/vertical.
With a professional recruitment agency at your side, you can ensure that your job-seeking efforts are conducted thoroughly. Even if you come out of an interview and are convinced you fluffed it up because you forgot to mention something important, your agency will be able to follow up on your interview by contacting the client and filling in any blanks you think you missed. This can help the employer to get a clear overview of your skills and experience, even those that you forgot to mention due to interview nerves or lack of time.
Get Useful Feedback on Your Application Packet
Before pitching you to employers, a good staffing agency will help you polish up and customize your resume, plus provide some tips for your cover letter (in case you’ll need one).
Some may also work with you on improving your online presence:
- Provide tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile
- Give feedback on your current digital portfolio or personal website
- Suggest other ways for improving your personal brand.
Also, if you get rejected by some employer, you will likely receive a detailed explanation of why that happened and what you can do to improve your chances of landing a similar job! This can help you to polish up your knowledge and experience and make you stand out better from the crowd for your next interview.
Are There Any Cons of Using a Staffing Agency During Job Search?
While a well-established staffing agency can be a good ally during your job search, there’s no guarantee that this will be the case each time.
One of the major drawbacks of staffing agencies is that larger firms (with bigger employer contracts), often have high competition among candidates. Remember that it is a recruiter’s role to find the best possible candidates for a client, not to find a job for every candidate they have on their books. So be prepared to get overlooked for some positions you were really eager to get.
If the staffing agency has more supply than demand, your job search with them can drag on. What you can do is to boost your chances is:
- Keep perfecting your resume, so that it comes as clear, informative, and concise as possible
- Invest time in getting extra education, training, or certifications that are in-demand.
Lastly, be prepared to receive not-that-relevant job offers, especially if you are after a temp job. Remember, most agencies are eager to place you as fast as possible to get their compensation from the employer. So some types may hassle you into taking less-than-great offers. Avoid overly busy recruiters who put their financial gains above your career objectives.
Check reviews of other recruiting firms and try to find those, offering a truly personalized approach to each candidate in their books.
Professional recruitment agencies carry a lot of industry knowledge, so take advantage of their advice and guidance to help you advance your career. They know exactly what their clients and other employers are looking for in a candidate and can become your secret weapon to finding the next solid employment opportunity!