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Is an employment agency right for me?

When you’re looking for a job, you’re sure to come across employment agency ads for workers. They often look like this screenshot (to the right) from Indeed.com:

But maybe you’ve never used an employment or staffing agency, so how do you know if you should apply?

First you need to understand what an employment agency does. The American Staffing Association (ASA) has a great description:

Companies need employees. Workers need jobs. And the staffing industry brings them together. Whether for temporary or seasonal assignments, contract engagements, or permanent placement, the staffing industry gives employees a bridge to permanent employment and it gives businesses the skilled labor and flexibility to create effective workforce solutions.


How does it work?

That depends on the type of position that is being filled – temporary or permanent – but the way it starts is the same...

When a company needs someone to fill a position, it can either hire the person directly, or enter into a contract with an employment agency. A representative at the employment agency, usually a recruiter, will work with the company to understand the job description, the skills needed, and the company culture. The recruiter then conducts a search, often pre-screening candidates, and recommends individuals for the company to interview.

Temporary, Seasonal, Contract:

If the position is going to be a temporary (like for a family leave), seasonal (like for Christmas sales) or contract (for a specific project), the employment agency is likely to have individuals already in the system they can recommend. If not, they place an ad like in the example above.

For these types of positions, you are an employee of the employment agency but working at the company’s location. Your paycheck, and any benefits, will come from the staffing agency, but you are subject to their policies in addition to the work policies at the company where you are placed.


In many positions, the company would prefer to hire a person temporarily to see if you’re a good fit before they bring you on as their own employee. In such instances, you are an employee of the employment agency for a set period of time and, if all works well, you are hired by the company at the end of the temporary period.


If the company is looking for a permanent employee, the employment agency acts as the Human Resources department for the company: placing the ad, pre-screening candidates, referring the best candidates to the company. For these positions, you are not employed by either the company or the agency until a job offer is made.

Employment AgencyEmployment Agency by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

Then what?

Once the agency has the request, they review the availability of their own employees or they place an ad for the position. Once they have candidates, they’ll either assign a current employee to the job, hire an individual for the temporary position, or refer the individual to the company for an interview for the permanent position.


If you’re looking for a full-time position, signing up with an employment agency might be the best way to find that ideal position. Many companies hire only through agencies, so you’re likely to know about a position before anyone else. Most will offer free training programs to enhance your skills and make you a more attractive candidate.

It also gives you the opportunity to work in various industries and at different companies, exposing you to a wider array of conditions that give you valuable experience.

Lastly, taking temporary or seasonal jobs gives you a paycheck while you wait for the perfect permanent position. Or it gives you a flexible schedule if you’re looking only for occasional work.

What to expect:

Regardless of the type of position, you can expect to fill out an application and submit your resume. Many employment agencies will do testing to verify such things as computer skills or typing speeds, and will check prior employment, education and certifications.

You will be interviewed, so you’ll want to prepare just as you would for any job. Depending on your skill level, the agency may provide you with training, or they may encourage you to practice to improve a skill, like typing.

Then you wait for an assignment that matches your skills and experience. In some instances, this may be within a week, but in others, you may need to be patience. Remember, it’s okay to check in regularly with the agency to let them know you’re available.

When they have an assignment for you, they’ll contact you with details of the job and make arrangements for your placement, if you accept. You’ll then need to follow the agency’s process for recording and submitting your time so you can be paid.

After you’ve completed the assignment, you may have a review with the agency to go over how you did. If a performance review isn’t offered, you can always ask for one. Then you’ll go back on the available list until the next match comes along.

Remember, you’re not alone.

If you decide to use an employment agency, you won’t be alone. According to the ASA, staffing agencies employed around 3 million temporary and contract workers each week in 2018. And a 2014 employee survey reported that 92 percent were satisfied with their employer, with 74 percent very, or extremely satisfied.

Give us a try!

Supplement Staffing loves helping people find jobs, but we like helping you establish a career even more. Find out how you can get the career of your dreams, even if you have been out of that industry or workforce for awhile!

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Temp-to-Hire, Temporary/Seasonal/Contract, Permanent Placement, Employment Agency