How to Use a Staffing Agency

The long and arduous task of job searching instills dread and overwhelming stress in the hearts of many. To alleviate the pressure, many job seekers opt for staffing agencies, also called temporary agencies or employment agencies. Generally, these agencies help candidates find work and place them in temporary work in the meantime. Temporary work can be easy money for the unemployed, especially when expenses do not allow time for the hiring process. For whatever reason, here is how to make temporary work, work.

Preparing to Register

To succeed with a staffing or temporary agency, candidates must first prepare. Most staffing agencies do not critique resumes and expect candidates to present a well-polished marketing piece. Professional resume preparation costs quite a bit but is a wise investment if possible. Otherwise, government job assistance centers frequently hold resume workshops, and many community college career centers critique resumes for free.

Electronic resumes presented in Microsoft Word are now the industry standard, but candidates should still arrive with a resume printed on watermarked resume paper. Ideal resumes are free of typos, format errors, and contain up-to-date contact information.

Contacting a Recruiter

Before calling, eliminate irrelevant agencies by preparing a concise articulation of job search goals. Once finding a relevant agency, candidates may set an appointment. The recruiter will instruct the candidate to e-mail a resume, or direct them toward an online application.

Most staffing agency interviews require a business professional dress code but those staffing labor and industrial jobs may prefer business casual. The staffing agency interview begins with lengthy paperwork, including, W-4, I-9, and a background check forms. They also usually test the candidate on computer literacy, common software applications, and sometimes basic math or customer service skills. These tests may last up to two hours, although some agencies now allow candidates to test online at home.

Finally, a recruiter interviews the candidate. Staffing agency interviews are usually a little less formal than other job interviews. The recruiter is assessing professionalism and qualifications, but also genuinely wants to make a placement. Questions center around positions desired, salary requirements, acceptable commute time, skill set, and possible questions or concerns a client may have regarding the candidate’s resume.

Many rumors abound regarding agencies charging candidates. It depends on the agency. Some agencies bill the client the fair hourly rate for the job, and take a commission, leaving the candidate with the rest. Other agencies take the commission from the client. The temp gets paid the fair price for the job, and the client gets billed a marked-up rate – some as high as 100%. Candidates concerned about this should ask their recruiter about the pay range for their qualifications.

After the Staffing Agency Interview

Candidates are given a packet and asked to call in weekly. Agencies have hundreds of candidates, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Calling in more frequently gets candidates noticed. For best results, be professional and friendly with recruiters. Remember their names, build rapport, and show an eagerness to work. Staffing agency recruiters are more likely to staff candidates they like.

Working a Staffing Agency Assignment

When the agency calls, they will either send the candidate on an interview or an assignment. The candidate must always remember that he/she represents the agency. While on assignment, temps should update the agency from time to time. This helps keep communication clear should any issues arise.

To make it work, candidates should come prepared with a great resume, present themselves professionally, and a have a solid understanding of their skill set and job search goals. Candidates should stay in regular contact with their agency, and understand their agency’s commission procedure. Finally, they should always remember to behave professionally while on assignments and interviews.

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