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Employment Agencies

Employment agencies can be another resource in your job search.

Employment agencies focus on matching your skills with employer job openings. The employer generally pays their fees so there is no cost to you. They are also called staffing, recruiting, or temp agencies. They work a little differently depending on the type of positions they fill.

Permanent, Full-Time Positions

Recruiting services search for qualified candidates for permanent, full-time positions. These firms are also called headhunters or executive search firms. They recruit, screen, and then refer candidates to an employer to consider. The benefits of using a recruiting service include:

  • You often get access to unadvertised openings.
  • A third party (the recruiting firm) is working to match your skills and long-term goals to a job.

Short-Term or Temporary-to-Permanent Positions

Staffing services match workers with short-term or temporary-to-permanent positions. They're sometimes known as contract firms or employment agencies. When you finish a short-term work assignment, the agency looks for another assignment for you. The benefits of using a staffing service and doing temporary work include:

  • You gain work experience, develop skills, and increase networking contacts.
  • Some agencies offer training to increase skills you might need on the job such as office software.
  • You meet your financial needs while continuing to look for work.
  • It's easier to get a job when you have a job.
  • You may be able to get more flexible hours or working conditions to accommodate your personal situation.
  • You can check out an employer or an occupation before making a commitment to training, a particular career, or a particular employer.

A temporary assignment can last a few hours, a few weeks, or several months. Sometimes employers offer permanent positions to temp workers who work out well.

Temporary employees generally do not receive paid days off (vacation, sick days, or holidays). Most staffing agencies also do not offer health insurance, but some may make it available after you have worked for a set period of time.

Tips for Working with Employment Agencies

Before you work with any employment agency, find out what services you can expect and what will be expected of you. Make sure you ask whether it will cost you anything.

For short-term contract work, ask about the pay rate, benefits, and length of assignments. Also, let them know the hours and days you're able to work, if you are available overtime, and your transportation and salary needs. Some additional tips:

  • Be professional. Treat agencies as you would a potential employer. In the case of temp agencies, they will be your employer.
  • Be available. Most agencies expect you to be available when they offer you work. If you turn down more than a few, they may not consider you for work in the future.
  • Expand your job search. Do not use agencies as your only job search tool.
  • Check your benefits. Short-term wages may reduce benefits such as unemployment insurance. But it may also extend the length of time that you can receive benefits. Before accepting or rejecting work, check with the agency where you receive your benefits.

It is a good idea for you to sign up with more than one temp agency. If you get a work assignment, let the other agencies know that you will not be available for a while, and contact them when you complete that assignment.

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