If you are spending any time looking for a new job then there’s a good chance that you will come across employment agencies that will offer you a position. If you’ve never worked with an employment agency before then you may not really know what to expect. This can become even more confusing if you are trying to juggle multiple employment agencies at the same time, especially if they are different types. Here’s a closer look at what employment agencies are and what you need to know before using one.

  • Manpower Staffing was founded in 1948, and has been successfully matching workers with employers ever since.
  • Kelly Services is considered to be the original temporary employment agency.
  • CoreStaff is a staffing agency that has become much more popular over the last several years.
  • Aerotek has been a leader in the staffing industry for almost 30 years.
  • Adecco is a popular employment agency that is most well-known for providing temporary positions to job seekers.

There are Several Different Kinds of Employment Agencies

The most important thing to understand is that not all employment agencies are the same. While you could potentially break them down to very specific subgroups there are two primary differences that you need to be aware of. The first big difference is what type of employment opportunities the agency focuses on. The most well-known is temporary employment agencies. They tend to primarily offer entry-level positions which are either a set period of employment or temp-to-hire positions. On the other end of the spectrum there are very specialized employment agencies that focus solely on filling vacancies for executive positions (middle-management and higher). Another common difference is whether or not the employment agency is local or national. Local employment agencies tend to have better connections with small local businesses, however they may not get as many contracts from large nationwide companies.

Always Ask about Commission

It has become standard practice for the hiring company to pay the commission to the employment agency, however this isn’t always the case. While this is rarely something that will affect you, it’s always safer to ask before accepting a position whether any of the commission will come out of your paycheck.

You Will Always be Pre-Screened

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you will never get hired for a job without going through the employment agency screening process. In fact, this is one of the reasons that employment agencies are becoming more popular than ever. The professional staffing industry has grown significantly over the past several years because employers are getting more applicants and resumes than ever before. By allowing the employment agency to do the pre-screening and initial interview the company doesn’t have to worry about it. This not only means that you will have to take some tests, normally lasting several hours, before being offered a position, but you will also likely find out about positions that are not publicly advertised.

They Do Require You to Make an Effort

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding employment agencies is that once you go through the pre-screening in testing, they will do the rest. While they will do their best to help you find some type of employment, they are doing this for hundreds of people every week, sometimes every day. This means that if you just sit back and wait then you will likely fall through the cracks. A majority of staffing services will have a set time for you to call in if you are available. This is either daily or several times a week. It is your responsibility to always call them and let them know your availability is. By doing this, you will stay in the forefront of your recruiters mind which means that they are more likely to give you the next available position. Plus, if you don’t call in the employment agency will normally assume that you have found employment elsewhere or simply are not available.

Hiring Managers Love Temporary Employment Agencies

As a hiring manager, let me say this right up front: I love temporary employment agencies!

Many times over the years, I’ve been able to get immediate help when I needed it badly by working with a good temporary employment agency. The best ones do a good job of screening candidates and I can specify the exact skills that I need.

Plus, if a particular temporary employee doesn’t work out for some reason, the agency will immediately replace that person with another one.

If I don’t need the temporary person for as long as I originally thought, I simply tell the agency I don’t need them anymore. If I need them longer, I can almost always get them extended. From a hiring manager’s perspective, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Yes, temporary employment agencies are certainly a great deal for the employer.

But what about for the job seeker? For you, temporary employment agencies can have advantages and disadvantages, depending on your immediate job goals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Temporary Employment Agencies


  • Get to know the employer
    And just as important, they get to know you. As a hiring manager, I’ve made permanent job offers to temporary employees many times. I know what I’m getting and the employee knows what sort of company they’re getting into.
  • Network and get references
    While working in the company, you can find out about other opportunities for which you may be a fit (be sure to check if your employment agency contract allows you to accept a permanent job without penalty). Also, people you work with and have impressed can make good references for you.
  • Develop new skills
    This can enhance your chances of getting a permanent job at that or another company.
  • Gain experience
    Experience translates to higher salaries in your job search and a temporary job can give you experience you wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • No long term commitment
    You may not have an idea of what you’re looking for in a permanent job. Temporary jobs can be a good way to sample several jobs to determine what is attractive to you.
  • Fills employment gaps
    This shows potential employers that you have the initiative to do something productive while searching for a new job.
  • Flexible hours
    If you’re placed with a large company, they may offer flexible hours. This helps in your search for a permanent job.
  • Earn money
    And of course, a temporary job will at least bring in some income while you’re job searching!


  • Little job security
    Temps are frequently the first ones to be let go in times of downsizing, as there is no penalty for the employer.
  • Repetitious work
    Temporary jobs are frequently for routine activities, so the work can sometimes be repetitious.
  • Limited benefits
    There are usually limited or no benefits for temporary employees. However, the better temporary employment agencies may offer benefits once you’ve been with them a while.
  • Employee treatment
    Some employers may not treat their temporary workers as well as their permanent workers. On the plus side, this can be a signal that you wouldn’t want a permanent job there.

    Is Temporary Work for You?

    While temporary work has traditionally been identified with office workers – e.g. clerical, customer service, receptionist and data entry – it’s also widely used in manufacturing companies for jobs such as package and assembly line workers.But don’t stop there. Many professional jobs now use temporary employment agencies to fill short-term needs without having to add permanent staff. Just think of all those radio commercials you’ve heard for AccounTemps!

    And today, there is a wide and growing market for temporary workers in the computer technology fields, especially for those with very specific technical skills. It’s frequently the most cost effective for an IT hiring manager to hire a temporary worker for very specific, one time technical needs.

    Even executives take temporary jobs (although these are usually called “contracts” rather than temp jobs!).

    So don’t shy away from considering work at a temporary agency. Remember: we hiring managers love them!


    First and foremost, look for a temporary employment agency with the least restrictive contract.

    Many agencies have a contract clause that prohibits you from taking a permanent job with a company they’ve placed you with, unless you wait a period of time after your temporary assignment. This can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days, unless the employer pays a penalty to the agency.

    So, look for an agency that places no restrictions on your accepting a job, or has only a short waiting period. As a hiring manager, these are the type of temporary agencies I like to work with.

    Second, look for temporary employment agencies that offer at least some benefits once you’ve worked for them a while.

    Also, find out what their hiring process is and the types of skills they need the most. In this respect, you should treat them like any other company at which you’re seeking employment.

    Call ahead to find out what kind of testing they do. Ask about the geographical areas they service and the types of skills that they are most able to place. Be ready to be tested on your Microsoft Office and data entry skills. Some agencies will not speak with you until after they have done this testing. They don’t want to take time placing you until they can match you skills with the job.

    All in all, you should find working with temporary agencies to be a pleasant experience. After all, they wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t have qualified people such as yourself.

    If you prefer finding temporary jobs online, here is an excellent source: Net-Temps. They match online applicants with temporary jobs. Their web site has an Alexa rating of 12,100, which indicates they are getting massive traffic.

    This may be just the short term option you need.