How to find the best staffing agency for you in any city?
The problem with searching for staffing agencies on Yelp, Glassdoor, Indeed or other review site alternatives is that you still wouldn't know who to work with. Why? Because they mostly focus on general labor or admin categories that are the most commonly requested by small businesses that use these sites.
These general directories categorize all staffing agencies under one big umbrella Employment Agencies category which means they include all kinds of agencies related to employment making it hard to distinguish between them based on just the reviews which usually are individual opinions of people that interacted and mostly were disapoointed with the agencies for not finding them a job.
OnContracting is the only staffing agency directory in the world that is exclusively focused on the staffing industry. It tells you who the best staffing agencies are in any city based on the skills they focus on, the clients they serve, the jobs they have open and recruiters you need to talk to.
There are really only a few things people need to know about a staffing agency. Does the staffing agency have a good employer brand? and good clients? Do they actually have open positions or do they string you along till they find something? Do they provide contract labor or receptionists or software engineers? Do they specialize in contract-to-hire, temp, or fulltime? For job seekers or clients that are new to contracting, calling and talking to all the agencies is virtually impossible because first you have to be able to find them and then you need to be able to find someone at the agency that will talk to you.
Below are our tips on finding the best staffing agency in your city and things that every job seeker or client should know while talking to employment agencies.
National Staffing agencies- Most large companies have a preferred list of vendor they work with. They get better service and low prices in exchange for higher volumes from these agencies. Staffing agencies that work for these large companies typically have a high volume recruiting operation as they have to be very efficient and low cost to be competitive. Often you will get the first screening call from their offshore recruiters and once you are 'pass', they will move you on to a local recruiter or account manager. Sometimes these staffing agencies may not have offices in your city and you will only communicate with them over phone.
Pros- These agencies often have a number of contingent positions that they are always hiring for. They will not waste your time. Although sometimes they use subcontractors to do the initial sourcing who are usually inexperienced first round screeners.
Cons- The downside is that these agencies specialize in just a few types of positions (Admin, Software engineers, Accountants, etc.) and if you are not one of their target skills, they are not going to spend any time with you to understand your skills or requirements. Also if the client is desirable they may have lower rates for contractors as people will work here for less.
Retail Staffing Agencies- These are staffing agencies that don't rely on a relationship with a few large clients. They are also called Retail Staffing Agencies (Robert Half is the best example). They focus on small and mid size businesses with irregular demand, try to provide better customer service and normally charge higher rates. Their model is not suited to service high volume large customers.
Pros- They will spend time to understand your skills and desires and work to find something for you.
Cons- They have few or no active positions and may take some time to find you something. These are best if you have niche skills that the regular staffing agencies don't staff.
Permanent Placement Agencies- While not the typical staffing agency, these companies focus on filling full-time employees for clients that might be Fortune 500 companies or startups. They make money by charging a placement fee (15-30% of annual salary) for referring a candidate. If you are looking for a fulltime job, you could talk to them as they sometimes may have access to jobs that are not available on job boards.
Large Staffing agencies- If you have in demand skills like software or finance you are typically better off with a large staffing agency. It will be easier for you to find appropriate opportunities by just posting your resume with all the relevant keywords on a job board and waiting for a recruiter to call. Once you get a few calls research the staffing agencies (on OnContracting) and decide which position soounds the best. You will be normally be better off with a large staffing agency as they will have access to more positions, so if you have a relationship with them, they can help you with your next gig. They often pay better as they realize they are in a competitive market, and you wont need to worry about being paid on time as they have a reputation to protect.
Small Staffing agencies- If you have niche skills (Supply Chain Planner, SOX expert, Environment Consultant) or need more advice you will be better off with a smaller agency that may have access to a position with a client that has such a need. Smaller agencies also work harder in proactively sourcing positions for you. They may know a hiring manager and pitch them your resume to a company to check if they might be interested in hiring you even if there is no active position. On the downside- pay might be lower because they need to keep higher margins and competition is absent and in some cases, if the agency goes under the owner may disappear without paying you and you will have to spend on a lawyer to get the money owed to you.
Generic Skills- Large Staffing agencies often fill roles for many categories of skills as companies prefer to deal with fewer suppliers and tell the agencies to hire all sorts of skills for them. Even then many staffing agencies generally tend to develop competency in a few areas and focus on them.
Niche Skills- Smaller agencies prefer to deal in one skill and do a better job in that. This helps them with building and maintaining a pipeline of candidates and being better at identifying these skills. Often these agencies are run by people that come from that field and who already have industry contacts in those fields. They may not seem polished but often will have access to some great gigs because their contacts know and trust them- and work only with them.