What You Should Know About Staffing Agencies

Are you working with (or thinking about using) a staffing agency to find your next job? As you might already know, staffing agencies often provide quick and easy access to various job opportunities, and they make the process pretty simple for candidates.

By now, many people are familiar with staffing agencies and the standard hiring process, which typically goes something like this:

  1. Job seeker applies to work for a staffing agency;

  2. A recruiter assesses the job seeker’s skills, experience, and overall qualifications;

  3. Recruiter places job seeker on assignment with one of their clients (hiring companies);

  4. Job seeker becomes a W2 employee of agency, and the agency is the legal employer of job seeker

Let’s take a look at some of different variables when it comes to staffing agencies.

Types of Employment Services

There are several types of employment services that help people find jobs. The type that we're focusing on in this article is what’s most commonly known as a staffing agency, which is also known as a temp agency, or a temp service. These are the services that primarily help people find hourly, temp-to-perm (or just temp) work in manufacturing, warehousing, clerical, retail, construction, call center, etc., types of environments. Typically, when these agencies send job seekers to work, they also become the W2 employer on record, taking on all employer responsibilities.

The other common types of services are ones where the agency, or firm, finds opportunities for their candidates to get hired on directly by the hiring employers. These firms are typically known as executive search firms, retained search firms, headhunting services, etc. In these cases, these firms do not employ the candidates that they’ve found and referred to their clients.

Application Process

Applying to work for a staffing agency can be pretty simple; many agencies allow you to apply online, and others only require a quick paper application. To work for a staffing agency, you’d need to provide a social security card, and proof of work eligibility in the form of a government issued identification card like a driver’s license, ID card, or permanent residence card.

Most agencies will require you to stop by their office to apply in person, even after you’ve applied online. Once there, they will go over your skills, experience, and work preferences. Then they’ll also tell you about some of the jobs they have that may be a good fit for you.

An updated resume is recommended, although many people still land jobs without one.

Many agencies also include background and drug screening as part of their application process. The way each agency assesses your eligibility to work based on the results of these screenings varies from agency to agency, as well as from assignment to assignment. Some agencies, and some jobs, don’t require a background or drug screening at all.

Accepting an Assignment

Once you’ve met with a recruiter and have agreed to take on a job or assignment, you may or may not have to go through: an on-site interview with the client (hiring company), a facility walk-through, an orientation to prepare you for the work environment, some type of skill testing or training to further qualify you, or a combination of any of these.

Why so many processes? Because there are so many different types of jobs with so many companies that work with so many products. For example, an assignment where you manually put labels on boxes in a nice clean warehouse requires less preparation than one where you drive a forklift inside a refrigerated food manufacturing facility.

Assignment Terms

Many agencies offer three main types of work terms

  1. Temp-to-perm

This is probably the most common type of assignments. When an assignment is considered temp-to-perm, it means you’d start out as a temp, work for at least 90 days, then you’ll be eligible to get hired on full time with the client. Truth is, becoming a full-time employee is not guaranteed, even after you’ve worked for 90 days. For various reasons, the client may not offer you full-time employment, which would usually make you a long-term temp.

2. Long-term Temp

A long-term temporary employee is someone who is on assignment with the same client indefinitely. Some times the agency and the client will let you know upfront that the assignment is long-term, but you will not be offered full time employment by the client.

3. Temp Assignment

Another common type is the temp assignment: this is where you, the agency, and the client all understand that your assignment is only temporary. The reason temp assignment exists is due to short term needs by the client, or seasonal work.

In any case, your employment status is that of a W2 employee, and your employer of record is the staffing agency that pays you. This does not change until you stop work on assignment for the agency, or until you’ve accepted full time work with the client.


Most agencies pay weekly, and many of them do require your banking information so they could make direct payments to your bank account. Some still allow you to ask for your payment in checks.

If you are paid in check, you may be required to stop by the agency’s office to pick up your check every week. Some agencies deliver pay checks directly to the employees while they’re at work.

Insurance and Benefits

Depending on the agency you work for, you may become eligible to enroll in an insurance plan and enjoy a benefits plan. Usually the insurance is offered immediately, or within 60 days of employment, while benefits like holiday and vacation pay don’t kick in until you’ve worked for them for at least half a year. In most cases, employees who become eligible to earn benefits are those that are on long-term assignments, as the ones that are on short-term or temp-to-perm assignments don’t usually accrue enough hours to become eligible.

I hope this helped answer some of your questions. If you have any other questions, send me a note at Best of luck with your job search!

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